Weed aficionado rates Wynne’s pot plan

Sarah Hanlon

Pot

Pot

The Liberals announced on Friday that legalization of cannabis sales will be modeled after their experience in alcohol.

For Ontario tokers and industry leaders, giving the LCBO exclusive rights to cannabis sales was an expected and disappointing move from the province, underlining the power of the LCBO and Ontario Public Service Employees Union President Warren (Smokey) Thomas, over sound decision-making.

Here’s the 411:

The Good

The proposed minimum age to use, purchase and possess pot will be 19.

In eight U.S. states that have legalized pot, the minimum age for sale is the same as it is for alcohol consumption.

Police will confiscate small amounts of cannabis from young people.

Children and young people under the age of 19 caught with cannabis will not enter the legal system because of the soon-to-be-legal plant.

The Bad

The LCBO will oversee the legal retail of cannabis in Ontario through new stand-alone cannabis stores and an online order service.

Many are relieved that cannabis and alcohol will not be sold alongside

each other but after years of dealing with the LCBO, Ontario residents are frustrated to see what feels like a backtrack from a free marketplace. Just when the people are finally enjoying the loosening of sales, with grocery stores being able to sell beer, wine and cider, the Liberals double down with this purely-public monopoly on marijuana.

“The use of recreational cannabis will be prohibited in public places and workplaces. “

Ontario will treat cannabis like tobacco and prohibit its public use. Cannabis lounges, some of which have operated for a decade, are now under the greatest threat. The fact the end may come in the form of cannabis legalization is an irony too great to bear for many in the weed world. Especially because the Legalization Task force recommended safe places for public consumption.

The Half-Baked

Approximately 150 standalone stores will be opened by 2020. Online distribution will be available across the province from July 2018 onward.

With only 40 government-run stores planned to open by next summer, prepare to wait for your weed. With around 100 illegal dispensaries currently operating in the city of Toronto, 40 stores for the entire province will not be able to keep up with current demand.

The government promised to crack down on “illicit dispensaries” selling cannabis in the city, telling them “they are on notice.”

The reason ‘grey-market’ dispensaries exist in such high numbers is because Canada’s medical cannabis system is so overextended and inaccessible that courts tend to rule on the side of the dispensaries to improve access. With their plan to use the current medically licensed producers in Canada for the recreational market, the system will only become more strained — making the legal standing ground for dispensaries that much stronger.

@flatshanlon