Pubdate: Sun, 18 Feb 2018
Source: Calgary Sun, The (CN AB)
Copyright: 2018 The Calgary Sun
Page: 15


The Notley government rolled out more of its marijuana retail
regulations on Friday and, we must say, they continue to stay ahead of
other provinces.

The only way this year's legalization of bud is going to work is if
obtaining legit weed is reasonably close in convenience and price to
buying the illegal stuff. The Alberta NDP government seems to be
making a reasonable stab at doing just that.

When you can walk into just about any bar in the province and in a few
minutes pick up a couple of joints at a reasonable price, it won't
automatically be easy for legal retailers to compete.n Users might
have to drive further and pay more for the straight stuff.

We suspect lots of middle-class users - teachers, doctors, business
owners - will gladly pay a premium for legal cannabis to avoid the
social stigma of arrest. But since there isn't any longer much stigma
attached to buying on the black market, that premium can't be high.
Finding the right balance among legitimacy, convenience and cost is
going to be tricky. But the Alberta government seems to be on the
right track.

Compare what the Notley government is proposing to what the Ontario
government is doing.

First off, retail pot sales in Alberta will be through privately run
stores. The licencing of stores and store owners, plus the running of
the supply and wholesale networks will be handled by the government's
Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, to reduce the chances that
organized crime will get involved.

However, buying marijuana will be similar to buying liquor in Alberta.
Stores will open all over the province, likely

250 in the first year (a number comparable to the number of private
liquor stores that opened during the first year of privatization in
the 1990s).

There may even be enough stores in larger centres close enough to
compete with one another.

They can be open the same hours as liquor stores, from 10:00 a.m.
until 2:00 a.m. (although municipalities have the authority to limit
hours within that timeframe).

By contrast, in Ontario all weed retailing will be done by the
government in publicly owned and operated stores, and no more than 80
cannabis outlets will open this year. In fact, as of the end of
January, just 29 locations had been announced.

In a province that is larger in area and has more than three times the
population of Alberta, even 80 Ontario government stores are nowhere
near enough.

To assuage any fears Albertans have that crime bosses will take over
marijuana retailing, all applicants for licences must submit to a
criminal record check and provide three years of tax records - and so
must all of their directors and investors.

Anyone with a conviction under earlier drug laws will not be
sanctioned to own a cannabis dispensary.

There are still some silly hang-ups in Alberta's rules - like banning
the sale of munchies in weed stores. Still, the provincial government
seems to be getting this mostly right.
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MAP posted-by: Matt