Tag: Canada

How to Combat a Government-Controlled Cannabis Monopoly

In early September, Ontario was the first of the Canadian provinces to announce its plans for a marijuana retail framework. To the chagrin of the unlicensed cannabis community, the government decided that a provincially-controlled system would be the best option.

Since that announcement, many participants in the Canadian marijuana industry have asked if there’s anything that can be done to allow for a private retail sector in Canada’s largest province.

Toronto Member of City Council Jim Karygiannis has been the most vocal supporter within government for a privately-owned dispensary retail option. He has also been highly critical of law enforcement, who are working to shut down unlicensed dispensaries at all costs.

“The City of Toronto is the largest municipality in Canada and should have taken the lead [on dispensary regulation]. We failed to listen to community stakeholders,” said Karygiannis in an interview with Marijuana.com. “We should have engaged the community, the medical marijuana users, the recreational users, and the dispensary [owners].”

Karygiannis added that the proper way to have gone about the process would have been to speak to the aforementioned groups and then take that information to the provincial government for review. He sees this as a necessary step because of the lack of connection the provincial and federal governments have with local communities on cannabis.

“[The provincial and federal governments]  don’t know the people on the ground. They don’t know the communities on the ground as well as the municipal governments do.”

The Councillor went on to say that the problem goes beyond a lack of communication with local citizens and the unlicensed cannabis community. By not trying to work with dispensaries, governments needlessly spend taxpayer dollars.

“We have a bylaw enforcement unit that goes around just shutting down cannabis dispensaries,” he said. “We’re wasting taxpayers’ money by having the enforcement unit, we are wasting taxpayers money by having the police go after [them,]  and we are also wasting money by taking these people to court. We should have done what happened out in Vancouver, we should have licensed the dispensaries.”

Karygiannis is also a vocal critic of the retail distribution model announced by the Ontario provincial government. He was quick to point out the downsides to not having dedicated staff from the cannabis community selling product at licensed dispensaries. Some of the issues he outlined include a lack of competition in the LCBO model, as well as the exorbitant tax and upcharges Karygiannis expects will happen in a government-run atmosphere.

“People who work in dispensaries are recreational and medical users. These people have the know-how to tell the [customers] this is the strain you should be buying.”

If the community would like to voice their opinions and try to mitigate the effects of a government-controlled monopoly on cannabis, what should they do?

“Any government decision can be persuaded to change, public opinion can shift. Folks should engage their MPPs (Members of Provincial Parliament), engage their municipal representatives, and say this is unfair and we want to change this.”

Karygiannis also suggested that the existing cannabis community should call their MPP and schedule a meeting with them. “Don’t have the discussion over the phone, go in person if you can.”

The legalization of adult-use cannabis is still nine months away. If a government monopoly on cannabis sales does not seem like a palatable option, contacting a member of provincial parliament is as easy as picking up the phone.

Photo courtesy of Exile on Ontario St

 

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Uruguay to Export Medical Marijuana Oil

Uruguay’s first batch of medical cannabis oil will be ready for export this December. The initial countries expected to receive the medicine are Canada and Mexico. The oil is being manufactured by the International Cannabis Corporation (ICC), which touts itself as the first integrated cannabis organization in South America. CEO Alejandro Antalich has stated that […]

 

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New Study Out of BC Recommends Keeping Unlicensed Dispensaries Open

A new study coming out of the University of British Columbia (UBC) says that unlicensed dispensaries in Canada should stay open.

As the Great White North legalizes marijuana, one of the challenges the federal government faces is the number of unlicensed dispensaries serving thousands of customers across the country. There has been significant debate as to what should be done about these retail storefronts, with some provinces working to shut them down, while others implement regulations for their tolerated existence.

Now, a research paper from UBC, one of the top three universities in Canada, finds that most Canadians prefer dispensaries over other ways of buying cannabis. The study was part of the largest survey of medical marijuana patients in Canada to date.

“[This research paper]  focuses particularly on dispensaries,” said Zach Walsh, an associate psychology professor at UBC, in an interview with Marijuana.com. “Everyone is debating how to deal with the commercialization of cannabis, that’s why we are publishing this now because there haven’t been any other studies that have actually asked dispensary customers what they like about dispensaries.”

The study was conducted by asking medical cannabis patients how they most liked to get their medicinal marijuana and why. “We looked at all the different modes of access, whether it’s buying from a friend, growing your own, having a designated grower. We asked people on a number of dimensions how these things rated and dispensaries did very well. They were the preferred method on most dimensions except cost, for people who were growing themselves.”

Walsh stopped short of recommending dispensaries outright as an option but did state that it is something that should be considered. “What we do recommend is that when [the government] is looking at the regulations, they should consider the benefits of dispensaries and we don’t need to reinvent the wheel because we have a system that works well for selling cannabis.”

Walsh believes the reason the government and others should take note of UBC’s findings is that dispensaries are clearly what Canadians want. He added that if the lawmakers would like a system that’s “sensitive to the preferences of consumers,” then dispensaries should be permitted in the retail mix.

Walsh added that government control in some way is inevitable, but a combination of storefront options is the way to go. “There’s going to be some government regulation, but I’m all about compromise and a mixed model, and an appropriate amount of government supervision.”

Thus far, Ontario has made an announcement that the retail system for adult-use marijuana sales will be government-controlled through the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. New Brunswick has also indicated that a government model would be their preference — it’s likely that Quebec will do the same. Alberta has announced some provincial regulations but stopped short at revealing how marijuana retail will unfold.

Canada is scheduled to have adult-use cannabis legalization in place by July 2018.

 

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