HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Ontario's Pot Plan Can Set Standard
Pubdate: Sat, 09 Sep 2017
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2017 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Solomon Israel
Page: A6


Government union says public sales model best bet for health and

CANADA'S most populous province has announced a plan to sell legal
marijuana through a publicly owned system, which is music to the ears
of the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union.

MGEU president Michelle Gawronsky said she hopes Ontario's plan to
sell cannabis separately from alcohol in publicly owned, stand-alone
stores will set an example for Manitoba. A public sales model operated
by Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation would be the best
possible option from a public health and safety perspective, she argued.

"The MLLC has a proven track record for selling a controlled substance
and the training that they put in for their employees to be able to
sell it and be socially responsible for it is absolutely the best
there is across Canada," said Gawronsky.

"I have no doubt in my mind that our members, the MLLC's employees,
would be the best ones to be able to sell this."

A December 2016 Probe Research poll commissioned by MGEU found that 65
per cent of Manitobans surveyed felt legal cannabis should be "sold in
stores owned and managed by government, similar to Liquor Marts,"
while 23 per cent said it should be sold in private stores. Likely
cannabis users, however, were less likely to favour government-owned
stores (55 per cent) and more likely to call for private stores (34
per cent).

The Pallister government has not yet indicated how cannabis will be
sold in Manitoba after federal legalization, set to go into effect by
July 1, 2018.

"All options are on the table at this point," said Minister of Justice
Heather Stefanson on Friday, adding the government had received many
responses to an expression of interest for producing, distributing and
retailing legal cannabis in Manitoba.

"We'll continue to work with stakeholders in the community to develop
a system that works best for Manitobans," Stefanson said.

MLA Andrew Swan, justice critic with the opposition NDP, said selling
cannabis through a crown corporation "makes sense."

"That's the best for social responsibility. It's the best to ensure
widespread distribution, but also making sure that it stays out of the
hands of minors."

Ontario's proposed plan, announced Friday morning, would hand
responsibility for provincial distribution of recreational cannabis to
the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. The Crown corporation plans to
open a series of new stores dedicated solely to cannabis, in addition
to operating an online distribution system which would deliver
marijuana province-wide by mail. The entire system would be supplied
with cannabis grown by licensed producers regulated by Health Canada.

About 40 retail locations should be open in time for legalization next
summer, according to Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa, with
plans to have 80 stores open by the end of 2018 and approximately 150
by 2020. Products will only be available from staff behind a counter,
with no self-serve option for customers.

The minimum age for legal purchase and consumption of marijuana in
Ontario will be 19, slightly higher than the minimum age of 18 set out
in the federal government's Cannabis Act. Recreational consumption in
Ontario will be prohibited in all public spaces and workplaces,
limiting cannabis users in the province to private residences. The
province will consider the possibility of licensed venues to consume
cannabis in the future, said Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi.

The government of Ontario also said it will crack down on the illicit
marijuana dispensaries that have proliferated in some cities across
the province. Some dispensary advocates argue that provincial
governments should be welcoming those businesses into the upcoming
legal regime.

"Dispensaries are the chosen distribution vehicle in almost every
jurisdiction that has a legal cannabis regime," said Jeremy Jacob,
president of the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis
Dispensaries. Private dispensaries, he said, are also a better
economic choice than publicly owned stores.

"I think that nurturing a strong economy of private companies like you
see in Colorado is going to be better for local economies, it's going
to be better for individuals, for business," he said.

Dana Larsen, director of the Vancouver Dispensary Society, believes
Ontario's tightly controlled approach to retailing will fail to
compete effectively with existing black market options.

"There's only one way to shut down the black market and close
dispensaries, and that's to make legal cannabis cheaper, higher
quality and more widely available than dispensaries can," he said.

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How to buy, smoke pot

TORONTO - The federal government has told provinces to devise their
own systems for the sale, distribution and usage of marijuana when it
becomes legal next summer. On Friday, Ontario outlined its plan:

* The approach is modelled on the Liquor Control Board of Ontario
(LCBO), which regulates the sale of alcohol throughout the province

* The proposed minimum age to use, purchase and possess recreational
cannabis in Ontario will be 19, the same as the current minimum age
for alcohol

* The use of recreational marijuana will be prohibited in public
places and workplaces

* The LCBO will oversee the legal retail of cannabis in Ontario
through new standalone cannabis stores and an online order service

* LCBO stores selling cannabis won't be selling alcohol

* Approximately 150 stand-alone stores will be opened by 2020,
including 40 in July 2018, servicing all regions of the province

* Online distribution will be available across Ontario from July 2018
onward through a site run by the LCBO

* Cannabis dispensaries currently operating are illegal and will be
shut down with the help of police and municipalities

* Police will confiscate small amounts of cannabis from people under
the age of 19, but the focus will be on prevention and harm reduction,
nor criminal prosecution

* Pricing and taxation decisions will come at a later

* Legislation regulating the control of marijuana will be introduced
in the fall

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They said it...

TORONTO - A proposed plan on the sale of marijuana unveiled Friday by
the Ontario government stirred a lot of reaction. Here's are some quotes:

"I have made it clear that while I support the legalization of
marijuana, I do not think the people of Toronto would support future
widespread location of outlets for the sale of marijuana in
residential neighbourhoods or in certain retailing areas. I hope there
will not be an excessive number of these stores and they will be
located in a way that places a premium on neighbourhood safety." -
Toronto Mayor John Tory

"I've been worried from the beginning that the so-called legalization
is nothing more than Prohibition 2.0 with cops and politicians looking
to make money themselves." - Jodie Emery, marijuana dispensary owner

"This is a prudent plan that we've worked hard to promote in
conversations with our communities, with the cannabis industry and
with government. It's good to know our elected leaders were
listening." - Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of the Ontario Public
Service Employees Union, which represents LCBO workers

"We are deeply disappointed that the Ontario government has decided to
implement a public sector monopoly for cannabis sales in the province.
One of the government's stated goals in cannabis legalization is to
eliminate the underground economy, but shutting out the private sector
will only allow the illicit trade to flourish." - Canadian Federation
of Independent Business

"We strongly recommend that the government commit all revenue from
cannabis sales to enhance mental health and addictions services in the
province." - Camille Quenneville, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health
Association, Ontario

"We will formalize a cannabis project team to help guide our efforts
and identify the many tasks that will be required before the federal
deadline of July 2018." - George Soleas, LCBO president and CEO
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