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Malcolm

Sharing the cost of legalized Marijuana

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Malcolm    646

Mayors press Trudeau Liberals for help to handle legalized marijuana

Big city mayors also sounding the alarm about a dramatic spike in opioid related deaths across Canada

By Jordan Press, The Canadian PressPosted: Jun 02, 2017 12:14 PM ET Last Updated: Jun 02, 2017 3:09 PM ET

The mayors of Canada's biggest cities say they need a slice of the tax windfall from legal marijuana to cover what they describe as significant costs associated with enforcing a signature initiative from the federal Liberals.

They raised their concerns with cabinet ministers this week, pressing the case that some tax revenues from sale of the drug must filter down to cover costs associated with land-use issues, business licensing applications and enforcement once the purchase, sale and recreational use of the drug is no longer illegal.

The parliamentary budget officer estimated in a report last year that sales tax revenue to federal and provincial governments combined could be as low as $356 million and as high as $959 million in the first year of legalization, depending on the price put on cannabis and usage.

"We're not in a position to collect any (taxes)," Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, chairman of the mayors' group, said in an interview this week. "One conversation that we think is important to have is support for local governments dealing with the costs of enforcement."

It would be up to local police to enforce impaired driving laws, provisions about sales to minors and any necessary bylaws for dispensaries that open up in communities. Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said cities are asking the federal government for more details as early as the fall about how the law will impact them.

"We also need some clarity around the law, so that we can be prepared to deal with dispensaries, many of whom think that they, as soon as this (bill) passes, can just open anywhere they want," Savage said.

Several mayors say they feel the Trudeau Liberals are moving at breakneck speed, leaving them little time to prepare for the new regime. The Liberals hope to make marijuana legal by the summer of 2018.

"The one thing that, of course, concerns me is the timing of how quickly this is occurring, especially given that I certainly have concerns about likely increased costs to policing," said Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman.

"Depending on how it's rolled out, depending on where the revenues are being collected and by whom could play a role in helping us address our concerns and what we expect are going to be increasing costs to policing."

Opioid epidemic 

The government's legalization bill, C-45, was being debated at second reading in the House of Commons on Friday, blocks away from where thousands of delegates were gathered for the annual meeting of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Trudeau addressed the gathering in the morning after the official start of the annual meeting, focusing on what local leaders describe as an opioid epidemic in their communities.

Health officials and political leaders have been sounding the alarm about a dramatic spike in opioid deaths across Canada — the focus of a national summit in Ottawa last fall that pulled together experts from across the country.

In his speech, Trudeau said governments won't rest until they turn the tide of the crisis, pointing to the government's latest budget as evidence of the government's interest in addressing the problem: The budget included $110 million over five years for a national drug strategy.

"The opioid epidemic has touched the lives of countless Canadians, in one way or another," Trudeau said.

"We must come together to address this crisis and that's why we're working with our provincial, territorial and municipal partners to find lasting solutions."

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DEFCON    684

Why would we need to spend $110 million we don't have over five years to study a problem we already know was created by the trusted medical professional using his prescription pad and pen?

 

/    

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Malcolm    646

A headline of our times.

Marijuana shortage: Nevada considers emergency measuresThese are external links and will open in a new window

Cannabis plantImage copyright AFP

State officials in Nevada are considering emergency measures to deal with a lack of marijuana.

Demand has been strong since recreational use was legalised on 1 July.

There are plenty of outlets but not enough distributors, the Reno Gazette-Journal reports.

Legislation gave liquor wholesalers the right to distribute, but most do not meet the licence requirements, Nevada's tax department is quoted as saying.

The department issued a "statement of emergency", which means state officials could adopt emergency measures to combat the shortage.

The journal quotes tax department spokeswoman Stephanie Klapstein as saying that many of Nevada's 47 marijuana stores are running out amid "reports of adult-use marijuana sales already far exceeding the industry's expectations".

Canada's plan to legalise recreational pot

Make medical cannabis legal, say MPs

Nevada Dispensary Association estimated sales of $3m (£2.3m) in the first four days of legalisation, with tax revenue of $1m.

Nevada voted in favour of legalising recreational use of marijuana in November, following similar moves in several other states.

Medical use of marijuana is permitted in 25 states, including Nevada where it has been legal since 2001.

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Malcolm    646

It seems that during all his travel, photo ops etc. our PM forgot to pay attention to business once again.  This time it involves his very special promise to legalize pot on July 01, 2018.

July 19, 2017 1:33 pm
Updated: July 19, 2017 1:58 pm

After blowing July 1 deadline, Canada seems likely to legalize pot while ignoring UN treaties

140106_cain.jpg?quality=60&strip=all&w=5 By Patrick Cain National Online Journalist, News  Global News ational law, an expert says.

“The government still does have some options,” says Steven Hoffman, a professor at York University in Toronto who specializes in global health law. “Those options are not all great, but they are still options.”

Canada has signed three UN drug treaties, one dating from 1961, pledging to ban marijuana (along with other drugs). We can leave the treaties after a notice period, but legalizing recreational marijuana by next July, as the Liberals have promised, would have required giving the UN notice by Canada Day, which is now nearly three weeks ago.

“Before July 1, I had been calling for Canada to withdraw from the three UN drug control treaties,” Hoffman says. “They are outdated treaties, which do not reflect the current stats of medicine and science. The treaties were adopted in a time when there was a different view of what addiction was.”

Hoffman suggests three ways for Canada to legalize recreational marijuana without breaking international law:

Putting off legalization. “The government has promised to make cannabis legal by July 1, 2018, but that date can always be delayed in order to give Canada time to address its international legal obligations.”

(This option might appeal to the provinces, which have to figure out how to set up and regulate a retail cannabis distribution system which may be in place less than a year from now. On Tuesday, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister called on Ottawa to delay legalization for a year, citing what he called “a tremendous number of unanswered questions.”)

READ: Brian Pallister to push premiers to ask feds for extra year before pot legalized

Amending the Constitution. The treaties allow countries to permit people to use a banned drug if it’s in that country’s constitution. Bolivia put a right to chew coca leaves, an ancient practice in that society, in their constitution after a referendum in 2009 for this reason. 

But Hoffman calls this option “infeasible”.

“Just imagine a right to possess and consume cannabis in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Equality rights, freedom of speech rights, cannabis rights – one of those things is not like the others.”

Saying that we’re legalizing marijuana for “scientific research.” The treaties allow otherwise banned drugs to be allowed for scientific purposes, but claiming that the long-term legalization of recreational marijuana across the whole country was done at least in part for scientific reasons “is some creative lawyering,” Hoffman says.

“The government doesn’t have to show that the only purpose of legalizing cannabis is for scientific purposes,” he says. Countries only have to show that it’s one of several purposes for doing something.”

Heavily censored documents released to Global News under access-to-information laws, and the fact that the deadline has passed, seem to indicate that Ottawa is looking at a fourth option: legalizing pot, staying within the treaties, and just living with the inconsistency.

A briefing note prepared for then-foreign minister Stéphane Dion last year makes references to Uruguay, which legalized recreational pot in 2013 without leaving the treaties. While the UN’s International Narcotics Control Board disapproved, nothing much else happened, the note says:

“While the INCB remains steadfast in its assessment that Uruguay’s marijuana regime is inconsistent with the 1981 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, the Board has never raised the possibility of applying punitive measures against Uruguay over the issue.”

Hoffman dislikes this approach:

“Canada is not Uruguay. Uruguay is not one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Uruguay is not one of the most important countries in the world.”

“Uruguay is violating international law, Uruguay is violating the UN drug control treaties, but the impact that that has in undermining international law is not nearly as great as what would happen if Canada does the same.”

READ: Canadians have a long way to go to meet new marijuana use guidelines

Transform, a U.K.-based drug policy reform organization, suggested “principled non-compliance” with the treaties, at least as they apply to cannabis, in a 2016 paper.

“Treaty non-compliance as domestic laws and practice change is a fairly common feature of regime evolution and modernization,” the paper argued. “Waving away worries about non-compliance by resorting to dubious legal justifications is much more an expression of disrespect for international law.”

“Opting for reform and acknowledging non-compliance can help set the stage for treaty reform options.”

The INCB has aimed criticism at Canada’s plans to legalize recreational pot, which was a Liberal campaign promise in the 2015 election.

In October of last year, INCB director Werner Sipp met with Dion and Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott in Ottawa to discuss marijuana legalization. Sipp had requested the meeting. Little is publicly known about what happened, but a briefing note prepared for Dion beforehand said that the INCB delegation “is likely to be critical of Canada’s decision.”

READ: Higher education: Learn to be a pot grower, vendor or ‘cannabis sommelier’

In March of this year the INCB’s annual report warned, in a section on Canada, that the treaties made no allowance for legal recreational cannabis:

“The limitation of the use of drugs to medical and scientific purposes is a fundamental principle that lies at the heart of the international drug control framework, to which no exception is possible and which gives no room for flexibility.”

(The report also criticized the United States, where four states have legalized recreational marijuana and four more have voted to do so. The U.S., however, is something of a special case — the federal ban on pot is still in place, though not often enforced, while states aren’t bound by international treaties.)

READ: Are White House comments a sign of trouble for marijuana legalization in Canada?

In the meantime, the Liberals have been silent about how they plan to tackle the issue.

In May, they avoided directly answering questions on the issue in the House of Commons:

This week, a spokesperson for Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland wrote in an e-mail that “Canada remains fully compliant with its obligations under the international drug treaties at this time.”

“It should be noted that four American states have legalized recreational marijuana while another four have voted to legalize. We are committed to working with our global partners to best promote public health and combat illicit drug trafficking.”                     

My own hope is that the government finds a way to achieve its political promise of legalizing cannabis without breaking international law in the process,” Hoffman says. “And I think that is still doable. I think the government should, as soon as possible, make clear their plans for legalizing cannabis without breaking the UN drug control treaties.”

“Breaking international law comes with all sorts of consequences. You can’t pick and choose what international treaties to follow without encouraging other countries to do the same.”

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DEFCON    684

Trudeau does something stupid and contrary to the interest of Canada pretty much every week as his party tours continue. Accordingly, fed up tax paying Canadians are going to revolt before the guy ever actions the legalization of pot. At this point I'd be willing to bet the issue doesn't get any further under sjw Trudeau than it did his father; the Trudeau family uses the issue as an election ploy to acquire the votes of the 18 - 25 year old crowd that normally doesn't bother to participate in the process.

   

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Malcolm    646

 

Ahead of legalization, N.B. doctors release education program on marijuana health risks

alex-2017-e1496427333172.jpg?crop=773px% By Alexander Quon Online Producer/Reporter  Global News
 
 
 
<img class="story-img" src="https://shawglobalnews.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/cpt126400659_high2.jpg?quality=70&#038;strip=all&#038;w=282&#038;h=188&#038;crop=1" alt="In this Sept. 30, 2016, file photo, a harvester examines marijuana buds from a trimming machine near Corvallis, Ore." />;In this Sept. 30, 2016, file photo, a harvester examines marijuana buds from a trimming machine near Corvallis, Ore.

In this Sept. 30, 2016, file photo, a harvester examines marijuana buds from a trimming machine near Corvallis, Ore.

The Canadian Press/AP Photo/Andrew Selsky

New Brunswick needs to learn about the dangers of marijuana, the province’s medical society said on Monday.

They’re launching a new public awareness campaign ahead of federal legalization that is set to come down next year.

“The legalization of marijuana doesn’t make it safe. It is important for people in New Brunswick to understand the risks,” said Dr. Lynn Murphy-Kaulbeck, the president of the New Brunswick Medical Society, in a press release on Monday.

“The health risks inherent with the use of marijuana are clear, particularly for younger people. Like tobacco and alcohol, marijuana use can lead to negative health impacts.”

READ MORE: N.B. pot professionals want voices heard by marijuana working group

The society has created a website, www.LegalNotSafe.ca, that is supposed to provide New Brunswickers with a better understanding of the health risks associated with using marijuana.

Some of the information on the medical society’s website includes; that marijuana can cause “depression and anxiety in adolescents and adults,” and that smoking marijuana creates the “same toxins and cancer-causing chemicals as smoking cigarettes.”

A specially selected committee is conducting hearings throughout New Brunswick, ahead of the province finalizing its regulatory scheme.

“We are concerned that the health risks inherent with marijuana are being lost in the face of anticipation of new tax revenues for the provincial government,” said Murphy-Kaulbeck.

“Marijuana has real health risks, and New Brunswick’s doctors want our patients to recognize this fact before legalization comes into effect.”

Earlier this year, the society released a list of recommendations on what they believe would minimize harm to the public.

They asked the government to set the legal age to buy marijuana at 21 — although they had hoped to set the limit at 25 before recognizing that it was an unrealistic goal.

An interim report released last month revealed that New Brunswick is considering setting the minimum age to buy pot at 19, regulating and selling cannabis through a crown corporation and setting the personal possession limit at 30 grams.

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Malcolm    646

Here is a novel idea and perhaps a use for some our our ghost towns here in Canada. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_ghost_towns_in_Canada

Marijuana company buys entire US town to create 'cannabis-friendly municipality'

A company which makes cannabis products has bought an entire town in California and plans to turn it into a "destination" for marijuana.

American Green has agreed a deal to buy the town of Nipton for $5m (£3.8m).

The company will own 120 acres of land, which includes a school building, a hotel, mineral baths and a general store.

They also want to power the town with renewable energy.

"We are excited to lead the charge for a true green rush," American Green's president David Gwyther said in a statement to Time.

"The cannabis revolution that's going on here in the US has the power to completely revitalise communities in the same way gold did during the 19th Century."

Nipton was originally founded during the gold rush in the early 20th Century when the precious metal was found nearby.

California is one of eight US states where recreational marijuana is legal.

Nipton - which has a population of about 20 - sits on the border of California and Nevada.

American Green wants to invest up to $2.5m (£1.9m) in revitalising the town to make it more tourist-friendly as well as eco-friendly.

"We thought that showing that there was a viable means of having a cannabis-friendly municipality and further making it energy independent could be a way of really inspiring folks to say, 'Why can't we do that here?'" project manager Stephen Shearin told Bloomberg.

"The gold rush built this city," he adds. "The green rush can keep it moving the way people envisioned it years ago."

 

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boestar    600

There are far more "Ghost" towns in the US.

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boestar    600

On my trip a couple of weeks ago we rode through Kansas and nebraska taking the minor roads instead of the interstate as the view is generally better and you get to see more.

It was quite telling when riding through what were once obviously busy little towns now boarded up and empty as if everyone just up and left one day.  it wasnt just one, it was one after another after another.

These towns were surrounded by farms as far as you could see but these are now Corporate farms and not you average joe farmer.  The big corporations are draining away what it once was to be a hard working american farmer.  Now its just business no sense of community.

 

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DEFCON    684

Agreed Boestar.

The transfer of ownership from the hands of the 100 acre family farmer to the mega producer is taking place here too and many small towns are struggling to stay afloat.

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Malcolm    646

Here we go, next July 01 we will likely have made mar legal, despite there is no accurate way as yet to determine if a driver is under the influence other than a blood test but at the same time we are going to tighten up the rules for driving under the influence of alcohol.  Seems contrary to me.

Federal justice minister seeks to decrease alcohol levels for driversJustice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould speaks with the media following caucus on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday June 6, 2017. (Adrian Wyld / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

     
 
     
     
     
     
 
     
     

The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, August 8, 2017 12:45PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, August 8, 2017 3:20PM EDT

OTTAWA -- Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is considering lowering the legal alcohol limit for licensed drivers, according to a letter she sent to her Quebec counterpart.

In the correspondence to Stephanie Vallee dated on May 23, Wilson-Raybould suggests lowering the limit to 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood from the current 80 milligrams.

The federal minister said the change would "make it easier to fight the danger posed by drivers who have consumed alcohol."

She said the current rules were established after research indicated the risk of being involved in a car crash was twice as likely when a driver has 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in his or her system.

"More recent research indicates the initial data underestimated that risk," she wrote.

Wilson-Raybould said the risk is twice as high at 50 milligrams and close to three times as high for 80 milligrams, "and the risk increases exponentially after that."

The minister said in the letter she was eager to hear Vallee's thoughts on the proposed legislative change.

Neither Wilson-Raybould nor Vallee was available for interviews Tuesday.

Francois Meunier, who works for an association that represents restaurateurs in Quebec, said the proposed changes would be a disaster for the province's restaurant industry, particularly for business owners outside the big cities.

"The new rules mean a woman can have one drink and a man, in most cases, two," Meunier said. "Forget about a bottle of wine for two, for a Valentine's Day dinner -- that's over."

Meunier said his members are less worried about losing alcohol sales than seeing a significant drop in total revenues, as people choose to stay home.

"It's about food sales that go with the alcohol," he said.

"When it comes to celebrations, parties, all that will be done at home as people change their behaviour. It's easy to talk about taking a taxi or public transportation, but in the regions it's not as easy."

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Fido    380

But if one follows the incidents of death by drunk driver the drunk driver is at 3 or 4 times the 80 milligram level.  But the solution is to lower the 80 milligram level to 50 milligrams?

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Malcolm    646
15 hours ago, Fido said:

But if one follows the incidents of death by drunk driver the drunk driver is at 3 or 4 times the 80 milligram level.  But the solution is to lower the 80 milligram level to 50 milligrams?

Politicians and knee jerk. is the quick answer but evidently there is a real reason:

Ottawa weighs lowering legal alcohol limit for drivers

Risks have been underestimated, minister says

  • Calgary Herald
  • 9 Aug 2017
  •  
getimage.aspx?regionKey=2bLG0pTLJiO6ZJU%2ff600fQ%3d%3dJody Wilson-Raybould

OTTAWA • Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is considering lowering the legal alcohol limit for licensed drivers, according to a letter she sent to her Quebec counterpart.

In correspondence to Stephanie Vallee dated on May 23, Wilson-Raybould suggests lowering the limit to 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood from the current 80 milligrams.

The federal minister said the change would “make it easier to fight the danger posed by drivers who have consumed alcohol.”

She said the current rules were established after research indicated the risk of being involved in a car crash was twice as likely when a driver has 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood in his or her system.

“More recent research indicates the initial data underestimated that risk,” she wrote.

Wilson-Raybould said the risk is twice as high at 50 milligrams and close to three times as high for 80 milligrams, “and the risk increases exponentially after that.”

The minister said in the letter she was eager to hear Vallee’s thoughts on the proposed legislative change.

Neither Wilson-Raybould nor Vallee was available for interviews Tuesday.

François Meunier, who works for an association that represents restaurateurs in Quebec, said the proposed changes would be a disaster for the province’s restaurant industry, particularly outside the big cities.

“The new rules mean a woman can have one drink and a man, in most cases, two,” Meunier said. “Forget about a bottle of wine for two, for a Valentine’s Day dinner — that’s over.”

Meunier said his members are less worried about losing alcohol sales than seeing a significant drop in total revenues, as people choose to stay home.

“It’s about food sales that go with the alcohol,” he said.

“When it comes to celebrations, parties, all that will be done at home as people change their behaviour.”

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boestar    600

Several weeks ago I had the opportunity to discuss the very issue of determining if someone is under the influence of narcotics and Marijuana with the officer that so happens to be in charge of just this sort of thing with the Halton Regional Police.

Apparently the training is quite extensive and is very accurate at determining a level of impairment.  In fact the first such case is going or has gone before the courts recently.

There is a process.  Make no mistake about it.

 

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boestar    600

I would imagine it is.

The story he told me about their training was interesting.   The actually had to go to clinics that treat addicts.  The clinic would bring someone in and the officer would then have to evaluate the individual based on observations made and come to a conclusion that would then be verified by the clinician.

The most interesting part is that they could NOT do this training in Canada because these individuals would be in posession of and using narcotics and the officer would be obliged to arrest the individual since in Canada you are ALWAYS a cop.  However in going to the US they have no jurisdiction so were able to conduct the training.   

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Malcolm    646

Re not being able to do the training in Canada, that is just plain wrong, but of course a Sworn Officer is always on duty but you do have to wonder why they could not get  a "let" in this regard.  Maybe they could train at one of our "safe injection ⸮ " sites where the letter of the law evidently does not apply.

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boestar    600
On 8/9/2017 at 10:37 AM, Malcolm said:

Re not being able to do the training in Canada, that is just plain wrong, but of course a Sworn Officer is always on duty but you do have to wonder why they could not get  a "let" in this regard.  Maybe they could train at one of our "safe injection ⸮ " sites where the letter of the law evidently does not apply.

What the officers need to see is someone who VERY recently took a hit of "something" Then the officer needs to see the physical attributes that will help identify what the user has taken.  Being stoned is not illegal taking and possessing the drugs is.  In these cases the cop would be in a situation where he would be obliged to arrest the addict had he been in Canada.  in the US he is not a cop.

This is real life training and a necessary evil.

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Lakelad    45

.

Ontario to create cannabis control board, open up to 60 storefronts, sources say

Illegal pot shops in Ontario to be shut down over next 12 months

Thu Sep 07, 2017 - CBC News
By Hannah Thibedeau, Mike Crawley

The Ontario government will announce Friday that it will create a cannabis control board and open up to 60 storefronts to manage the sale and distribution of marijuana in the province, CBC News has learned.

The plans include restricting marijuana sales to those 19 and older, a year above the minimum age recommended by the federal government's cannabis task force report in December.

The 30 to 60 stores selling marijuana to the public will not be housed inside existing LCBO stores as Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne had previously suggested.

Illegal pot shops in Ontario would be shut down over the next 12 months.

In April, legislation was introduced in the House of Commons to legalize and regulate the sale and distribution of marijuana on or before July 1, 2018.

Many of the decisions about how the drug will be sold and taxed are being left to the provinces.

At a premiers meeting in Edmonton in July, the premiers announced they would ask the federal government to postpone legalization if issues related to road safety, taxation, training for distributors and public education are not addressed.

The premiers said they would report back on progress by Nov. 1 and would seek such an extension if the federal timetable was deemed "unrealistic."

"The starting point is, have we met the public safety concerns, are we sure we have the provisions in place to protect youth, do we understand what the highway traffic implications are?" Wynne said at the time. "It's those issues that we have to resolve because we have to keep people safe."

Shortly after the premiers' announcement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government intends to stick to the July 2018 deadline.

.

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st27    124

What a surprise...the Ont govt creating another beauracracy and more govt jobs in the process.....I bet the pro weed groups didn't expect this when they voted for the little prince.

It will be interesting when they shutdown the existing illegal shops. No room here for the independent little guy! Just imagine how expensive it's going to be. Like the wind turbine consortiums, it's time to pay back the cannabis co.s (that are owned by former liberals). Oh, and the taxes. :o

 

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Malcolm    646
1 hour ago, st27 said:

What a surprise...the Ont govt creating another beauracracy and more govt jobs in the process.....I bet the pro weed groups didn't expect this when they voted for the little prince.

It will be interesting when they shutdown the existing illegal shops. No room here for the independent little guy! Just imagine how expensive it's going to be. Like the wind turbine consortiums, it's time to pay back the cannabis co.s (that are owned by former liberals). Oh, and the taxes. :o

 

But just think of the potential for getting more votes for the Liberals.  ......   Smoke and don't worry......:D

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Malcolm    646

The CBC looks at the Ontario Plan, no surprise here.

Could the Ontario government actually lose money selling pot?: Robyn Urback

The province has revealed the most complicated, cumbersome, expensive legalization plan conceivable

By Robyn Urback, CBC NewsPosted: Sep 12, 2017 5:00 AM ET Last Updated: Sep 12, 2017 5:00 AM ET

Is it possible that the Ontario government will be the only entity in the history of civilization to actually lose money selling drugs?

Perhaps "only" is an exaggeration. We all knew that dealer in high school who smoked more than he sold, leaving him ultimately in the red. Or that guy whose mom found his stash and confiscated his product, compelling his frustrated customers to shop elsewhere.

But by and large, those who enter the marijuana business — which, for now, is still illegal — do so with the understanding that there is money to be made. Good money. The stuff practically sells itself, in fact.

But when you are a government known for its crippling overspending and regular financial boondoggles, the notion that one could actually lose money selling marijuana becomes a plausible outcome.

Marijuana monopoly

Ontario has revealed what could quite possibly be the most complicated, cumbersome, expensive legalization plan conceivable — one that is certain to maintain the black market while at the same time burdening itself with massive overhead and organizational costs.

Instead of pursuing the cheaper, easier option of developing a licensing framework for existing dispensaries and taxing the revenue — sort of like the province does with tobacco sales and, to a lesser extent, The Beer Store — Ontario will create a new government-owned and -controlled enterprise, which will have a monopoly over pot sales in the province. As such, it will be responsible for everything: purchasing, distribution, retail space, training, payroll and so forth, following the existing framework of the province's LCBO liquor stores.

 

The fatal assumption made by the province here is that a government-run marijuana monopoly will function the way its existing government-run alcohol monopoly does. It won't. For starters, it's much easier to produce your own marijuana than it is to distil your own vodka or make whiskey in your bathtub. Any idiot with a grow light and some seeds can do it — and they have been doing it for years.

 

That's the second point: the last major black market for alcohol in Ontario died with the repeal of the Ontario Temperance Act in 1924. The LCBO works, for better or for worse, because it's the only thing many of us have ever known. The government's new pot monopoly, however, will have to compete with an already robust and flourishing black market.

 

One could argue that the LCBO, in its early days, had to compete with a robust and flourishing black market also, but that black market didn't have the benefit of one-day shipping on Amazon Prime and private Facebook messaging. Today's market might not be so easily extinguished.

1 store for every 93,000 people

In order for this government-run operation to eclipse the black market, its product needs to be at least as accessible and affordable as what is currently available to recreational users. By this scheme, it will be neither.

Ontario proposes opening just 40 retail outlets in the province in 2018, the first year marijuana would be legal (if it becomes legal, but that's a separate discussion). By contrast, the government estimates there are around 70 to 80 dispensaries in Toronto alone, and those dispensaries typically don't close at 6 p.m. on Sundays and on all statutory holidays.

Eventually, Ontario plans to have 150 stores by 2020, which is roughly one store for every 93,000 people by today's population. Will that be enough to satisfy market demand? Who knows!

Wait — what am I saying? We do know: absolutely not.

Marijuana will also be available for purchase online, but if it's anything like the LCBO's online delivery service — which means buying now, after you've reached the minimum threshold, and receiving in a few days, after you've paid exorbitant shipping — it will exist only to remind Ontarians why they still have their dealer's number. If people can't get what they want from the province's stores, they will look elsewhere.

What's more, for a government that professes to be extremely concerned about people driving under the influence of marijuana, the limited number of retail outlets seems like it would actually exacerbate the problem by forcing Ontarians outside major city centres to drive long distances to pick up the product. 

What's the magical price?

 

Then there's the cost factor. Finance Minister Charles Sousa said at a press conference Friday that the price of pot will be low enough to compete with the black market, while not too low as to encourage consumption. In other words, this Goldilocks price will at once sustain a fleet of unionized workers and the government's characteristically bloated bureaucracy — to say nothing of the startup operating costs — but also be low enough to rival illegal suppliers (but not too low, of course).

Despite the likely higher cost and inconvenient access, some Ontarians would be more comfortable buying marijuana from a government-run store. (Mark Thiessen/Associated Press)

If you believe this magical price exists — and bless you if you do — then you believe that the Liberals' last budget was "balanced," too.

Despite the likely higher cost and inconvenient access, some Ontarians will insist that they'll be more comfortable buying marijuana from a government-run store. That's fine. But there's little reason why those same Ontarians couldn't find comfort in buying marijuana from a government-licensed store that is subject to regular inspections, or even an independent dispensary where the government acts as the sole supplier.

Indeed, quality control would still be there, but those systems would come with the added benefits of more locations, longer operating hours, small business opportunities for investors, pricing set by the market instead of government and — perhaps most importantly — it would mean one fewer from-scratch project for this government to totally screw up. 

This column is part of CBC's Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

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