The influential Ontario Chamber of Commerce is urging Premier Kathleen Wynne to allow recreational marijuana to be sold by government-licensed private retailers as long as local municipalities approve.
In a letter being released Wednesday, the chambers president urges Wynne to immediately begin a robust consultative process aimed at developing a regulatory framework for the distribution of recreational marijuana.
We believe that a private-sector, licensing-based, and locally-oriented approach is one worth seriously considering, writes Allan ODette, the 60,000-member chambers president and CEO.
The Ontario government has a long and proud history of working with the private sector to implement programming, continues ODette.
A distribution system as complex and sensitive as the one required for recreational marijuana may demand a similar level of partnership, he writes, emphasizing the chamber is not endorsing an entirely free-market model.
(But) we caution government against creating a system that is so onerous that it effectively duplicates the existing ineffective regime thus sustaining illegal channels for production and distribution.
Wynne has said she would like the provincially owned Liquor Control Board of Ontario to be involved in the distribution of recreational marijuana – though it is unlikely weed would be sold alongside wine, beer, and spirits in LCBO outlets.
ODette says there are ways of controlling access to marijuana without the involvement of the governments booze monopoly.
A licensing system, whereby a fixed number of access points are auctioned out to both the public and private sectors – including unions – may be a more efficient model of regulated delivery, he writes.
With respect to both sites of production and sites of distribution, municipalities should have a voice in the approval process. Licenses should not be issued for communities which have voted against production or distribution facilities.
Thats a far cry from the free-for-all that currently exists with about 100 illegal storefront marijuana dispensaries in Toronto.
While police have cracked down on the unlicensed weed shops – many of which are cash-only operators who do not reveal the source of their dope they remain open.
Medicinal marijuana is legal in Canada with a prescription from a medical doctor.
But it must be either grown in small amounts by the patient or shipped by registered mail from one of the 35 producers licensed by Health Canada.
On Tuesday, the premier said Queens Park is looking for some clarity from Prime Minister Justin Trudeaus government on how legalization will work in Canada.
How long is this going to take? And it is up to the federal government to get this right. I know there are a lot of issues that have to be addressed. But we just need clarity of what the timeline is going to be, said Wynne.
I would like some clarity on what the process is going to be, she said.
Her comments came after Anne McLellan, leader of Trudeaus legalization task force, told the Star that the federal government should go slow on reforming marijuana laws.
McLellan said its key that Canada learn from other North American jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana.
One of the things we have learned, or we have heard . . . , from states like Washington and Colorado . . . is take your time, she said on Monday.
Because its much harder to pull something back than it is to perhaps be a little bit more restrictive out of the box and then, as you learn, you maybe loosen things up a bit.
News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Ontarios Chamber Of Commerce To Wynne – Private Retailers Should Also Sell Pot
Author: Robert Benzie
Photo Credit: David Rider
Website: The Star