Legal marijuana must be competitive: Blair

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MONTREAL – There is an overwhelming national consensus that legal marijuana must be priced, taxed and made available competitively with the black market, the man tasked with leading the drug’s legalization in Canada said Monday.

All the provinces agree more needs to be done to better protect children and to take away revenues from organized criminals, MP Bill Blair said in an interview Monday.

Canada plans on legalizing marijuana by July 2018 by allowing adults to possess up to 30 grams of legal cannabis in public, and to grow up to four plants per household.

Distribution and sale of the drug is up to the provinces, however, and there are still questions about how much they will tax marijuana or restrict its availability on their territory.

Blair has been on a national tour speaking with municipal and provincial politicians and other stakeholders regarding the fast-approaching legalization deadline.

The details are still unclear as to how provinces such as Quebec will legislate the distribution, price and access of legal pot and public consultations are ongoing across the province.

“I would never presume to speak for Quebec or any other province in this regard,” Blair said. “But in all the conversations I’ve been involved with — including Quebec — there is an overwhelming consensus that we need to do a better job protecting our communities and our kids.

“That we don’t want to leave this business with organized crime, and in order to defeat organized crime on this thing, we have to be able to be competitive with price and quality and access.”

Blair said while there will savings to the provinces by reducing the number of marijuana-related arrests and cases moving through the criminal court system, an investment up-front will still be required.

“We’re going to have to invest in infrastructure and administration and those who are responsible for keeping communities safe will need legislation, technology, the tools, resources and training — and that will require investment,” he said.

Adam Greenblatt with Ontario-based medical marijuana company, Canopy Growth, said an important issue in the debate is product branding.

Bill C-45, the legislation to legalize marijuana that is making its way through the Parliamentary process, prohibits marketing the drug in a way “that could be appealing to young persons or encourage its consumption.”

“It’s important for us to differentiate our products from one another, but also from the illicit market,” Greenblatt said. “Brands help solidify consumer confidence.”

Blair said there is room in the legislation to allow “for some level of branding” — but within reasonable limits.

If provinces aren’t ready with their legal framework by July 2018, the federal government plans on making weed available to any Canadians by the federally regulated mail service through licensed producers, which is currently how many medical marijuana patients receive their product.

Greenblatt, Quebec brand manager for Canopy Growth, said allowing direct online sales to anyone in Quebec “is a touchy issue” in the province.

He said the province’s health authorities have raised concerns about mail-order marijuana once it becomes legal.

Greenblatt, whose company sells marijuana online and delivers it to patients through the mail, said “it’s all the more important to allow us to continue doing this because there is already a black market mail-order business.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. The Canadian prime minister promised to use best practices and best science in the formation of our government’s cannabis policy but that is not what is happening.

    Our government is being misinformed by organizations that are pervaded by negative bias against all forms of cannabis use and as a result, our legislation we will be full of flaws based on gross misconceptions regarding how cannabis affects individual human physiology.

    Current legislation seems more fixated on the potential profits generated by the emerging recreational Cannabis industry rather than the many medical benefits that cannabinoid therapy could provide to a large segment of the Canadian population.

    Please research phytocannabinoids, the endocannabinoid system, and look up patent 6630507, just for starters, before making any assumptions about Cannabis Use and general health and DO NOT let unfounded fear and negative bias block access to the many medical benefits of Cannabinoid Therapy.

    https://youtu.be/Z2QdezPoupM

  2. It will never be competitive because of the greedy government, look at the outrageous cost of cigarettes and booze.
    This is why the criminals will always have an edge and this is why people will always go to the reserves to buy cigarettes at 60% off.
    The ripoff tax rates set by the government will only get worse.
    Speaking of ripoffs, what about the GST that was only supposed to be a temporary tax? It turned into 15% sales tax for a long time.
    7% sales tax is plenty to have to pay, 13% is an outright burn.
    People whine when others go stateside to shop, how can you blame them, the tax there is only 6%, the merchandise is less expensive. Many cannot afford to shop here for food unless they want their kids to freeze in the winter. Many save two to three hundred dollars a month fueling up and getting groceries in Soo Mich., the difference it makes between their children freezing or staying warm.
    The government just doesn’t get it and just keeps adding taxes, fees and raising the existing ones constantly.
    No damn wonder they have to raise the minimum wage and even then people will still be living at or below the poverty level.

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