HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Pot Is Best Kept Private
Pubdate: Fri, 06 Oct 2017
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 The Edmonton Journal
Page: 14


Alberta, like all provinces, is scrambling to come up with a plan to
adapt to the federal government's looming legalization of marijuana.

Given the rush to meet Ottawa's quickly approaching July 1 deadline,
the first proposed rules laid out by Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley
are generally promising in their application of common sense to what
is a complicated, costly and game-changing file off-loaded onto
provinces by the Trudeau Liberals.

The federal ground rules are: the minimum age can't be below 18 and
you can't possess in public more than 30 grams; most everything else
is for provinces to decide.

So far, Alberta has hewed close to existing policies on tobacco and
alcohol. Setting the minimum age at 18 - the age of majority in
Alberta - for legal cannabis purchase and use aligns it with
benchmarks for cigarettes and liquor. While some health advocates
worry about the damaging effects of pot on still-developing brains,
Ganley notes the biggest cannabis users are 18- to 25-year-olds. A
minimum of 18 encourages young adults to obtain it legally.

Alberta would also allow consumption at home or in public areas where
smoking is already permitted unlike Ontario, which proposes limiting
pot use to private homes. Alberta will rightly ban cannabis use in
vehicles or in areas frequented by children such as

The province proposes a government-regulated distribution model as
exists with booze to ensure the sale of legally produced products.

There are still questions: How to allow online sales while keeping the
product away from minors; how do police enforce impairment laws; and
what about cannabis cafes? To come up with answers, the province is
asking the public for ideas and feedback until Oct. 27.

The most challenging question may be whether retail cannabis sales
will be run by private enterprise or government. New Brunswick and
Ontario have indicated they are moving toward the latter option.
Ganley notes there are pros and cons to both.

Government-run stores offer greater control over sales and protection
from the black market but would also require developing from scratch a
system of stores reminiscent of the old Alberta Liquor Control Board
outlets that monopolized alcohol sales before privatization.

"But down the road, there's the potential in several years that the
government could net increased revenues from a public system," Ganley

That way lies madness. The province must resist the costly and risky
temptation to build a chain of cannabis stores; retail is a precarious
business best left to industry. Instead, pass the responsibility to
the private sector while recouping the costs of marijuana legalization
with a reasonable new sin tax on the product.
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