HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Privatize Sale Of Pot
Pubdate: Sat, 07 Oct 2017
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network
Page: A14


The Trudeau government's notice that recreational use of marijuana
will be legal on July 1, 2018, has created a number of challenges for
provincial politicians. Legalizing the substance is the easy part.
More difficult is deciding how the drug will be sold to customers,
where retail outlets will be located, where cannabis can be smoked and
how police will be able to detect those who have consumed too much

The NDP government provided a glimpse this week of what legalized pot
might mean for Albertans, but it's waiting for the public to weigh in
before it introduces legislation this fall.

One of the most fundamental decisions the NDP must make is whether
Alberta should allow marijuana to be sold in private stores - just
like alcohol is - or whether the government will operate its own
outlets, as Ontario has decided.

Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley says if privately owned
stores are permitted, they would be restricted to selling marijuana.
They would not be able to offer alcohol, tobacco or pharmaceuticals to
their customers.

There's an argument to be made that existing private liquor retailers
possess the expertise and regulatory compliance to make the
introduction of legalized pot a success. The Alberta Gaming and Liquor
Commission will be the wholesaler for marijuana, after all, just as it
is for beer, wine and spirits. Ganley has rejected such a model, and
if that's the case, the NDP should choose a system of privately owned
marijuana retail outlets. If the government doesn't need to be
involved in the sale of alcohol - which was proved long ago - then it
doesn't need to have a hand in the retailing of marijuana, which is
likely to still be available on the black market despite government

"With a private model, there would be less risk and less costs,
obviously, upfront. But down the road, there's the potential in
several years that the government could net increased revenues from a
public system," Ganley said Tuesday.

Alberta entrepreneurs demonstrate their acumen every day, regardless
of what product they sell or service they provide. The same, sadly,
cannot be said of governments, which are characterized by high costs
and inefficiency. In Ontario, it's suspected the creation of
government-controlled stores is a costly sop to public sector unions.
We don't need more of that here.

Our provincial government, like others across the country, has many
determinations to make to facilitate the federally mandated sale of
pot. On the matter of retail outlets, the NDP should draw upon the
expertise of the private sector.
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