Saturday, 18 November, 2017

Province solicits public feedback on pot legalization

For The Globe and Mail Open this
Debra Rodriguez | 09 September, 2017, 03:50

This comes after a period of debate among several provinces and Ontario releasing a survey to citizens for how marijuana will be sold.

The federal government introduced legislation in April to legalize recreational marijuana by July 2018.

Ontario's Justice Minister Yasir Naqvi said a dozen shops will be open on July 1, 2018 and the number will grow to 150 by 2020.

Residents can remain anonymous as they answer 26 questions about marijuana regulation.

Today, Ontario gave us a shocking example of what such provincial hammering might look like, unveiling a plan that would restrict sales of legal cannabis in the province to 150 government-run stores and a government-run website-a move that would completely outlaw the province's thriving, beloved, and, yes, illegal independent dispensaries. An online retail operation is also set to be in place next year.

Ontario ministers announced the measures at morning press conference.

"Having limited retail outlets across Ontario for legal marijuana will do virtually nothing to combat the huge illegal market", he said in a statement.

Camille Quenneville, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association, called early details about the province's announcement "promising", but expressed concern over how the government will use revenue generated from cannabis sales. "Whatever they end up calling it, it's the right model".

"Considering the well-established network of LCBO stores across the province, and the well-established policies LCBO staff follow with respect to age of majority and Smart Serve, I don't understand why the government wants to build another stand-alone entity for cannabis sales to the public", said Scott Leatherdale, an associate professor in Waterloo's School of Public Health and Health Systems and the CIHR-PHAC Applied Public Health Research Chair in youth health.

If Saskatchewan goes for a private model, he suggested, dispensaries operating illegally would be able to legalize their operations.

Over the coming months, Ontario will consult with municipal partners, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and other organizations to explore the feasibility and implications of introducing designated establishments where recreational cannabis could be consumed.

On impaired driving, he said that new drivers would likely face a "zero" limit, while experienced drivers would be permitted to have a small amount in their system - so long as they aren't impaired.

"Frankly, this is uncharted territory and we're going to have to monitor it and see how it develops", Sousa said. But bureaucrats are already hard at work getting things ready.

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