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Pubdate: Thu, 08 Feb 2018
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2018 The Globe and Mail Company
Page: A12


British Columbia gets pot. "B.C. bud" is a globally recognized brand
with a cachet that Okanagan vintners must envy. And a greater share of
British Columbians toke up than residents of any other province, save
Nova Scotia.

So it's unsurprising that our westernmost province has proposed
regulations on legal marijuana that are among the most sensible, and
least neurotic, we've seen.

In rules fleshed out by the government this week, the province has
committed to a hybrid approach to selling the drug. The B.C Liquor
Distribution Branch will set up its own weed-only stores, but private
retailers will be able to apply for licences to run the same.

That's smart for two reasons. The first is that retailing weed
exclusively out of government stores, as Quebec and Ontario are
planning to do, will help the black market continue to flourish.

To stamp out the unregulated sale of pot, governments need to make
their own product reasonably priced and readily accessible. With an
initial batch of only 40 outlets planned in Ontario, and a mere 15 in
Quebec, many consumers could find scoring a few grams in the park
easier than going to a legal vendor.

That will take a bite out of government revenues, push consumers
towards potentially tainted pot, and maintain the expense and
absurdity of locking people up for selling a legal drug. (Ontario has
set a maximum jail sentence of two years less a day for unauthorized
pot sellers.)

It would be so much wiser to bring the shadowy, semi-tolerated
dispensaries that currently operate in many Canadian cities into the
regulatory fold, along with new entrants to the market who show they
can do a responsible job of selling weed. That's effectively what B.C.
is doing.

Aside from the trouble it will save, it's what consumers deserve. Weed
can be harmful, especially for young people with developing brains.
But millions of Canadians enjoy a toke in much the way others enjoy a
glass of wine. The two vices are not so different.

B.C., with its flourishing pot culture, should know. Now it has shown
that it does.
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