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CTV Toronto Logistics of legalized marijuana

John Musselman reports on what the federal government’s promise to legalize marijuana could mean for Toronto.

Video source Pot TV

Video source CTV News Toronto


LCBO should have marijuana monopoly, too: Union

Government-run weed stores are not necessary, reply marijuana advocates, after OPSEU boss suggests keeping it in state hands following legalization.

By: Torstar News Service Published on Tue Nov 24 2015

Stocking weed alongside wine at the LCBO is the best way to protect public health, say addiction experts. But for marijuana advocates it’s more of the same prohibition.

In a statement released Monday, the union representing LCBO workers said the provincially owned stores are the ideal place to sell marijuana, should the federal government legalize it.

“If they do legalize it, then it’s a drug,” Warren (Smokey) Thomas told Torstar. “So we think that, like alcohol, it should be controlled.”

Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, said secure warehouses and staff trained to check ages are some of the reasons the LCBO should be the sole source of legal pot in the province, as it is with most alcohol.

The scheme would also generate revenue for the government to combat the potential social costs. But marijuana advocates say those social costs and the spectre of public danger are overblown, and government-run sales would continue a prohibitionist regulatory approach.

“Our view of course has always been that marijuana is one of the safest drugs. It’s not any worse, slightly better, than coffee,” said Blair Longley, the leader of the federal Marijuana Party.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberals won this fall’s election with an campaign platform promising to “legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.” However, Longley maintains the drug should be proportionately restricted based on its danger. So ideally, he said, anyone should be free to grow and use the plant how she wishes with the informed consent as to any danger.

Hugo St-Onge, leader of Quebec’s Bloc Pot party agrees that government stores are not the way forward.

“We need to stop comparing marijuana to alcohol,” he said. “Marijuana should have its own model, its own system.”

He prefers a food-model regulatory system, with sales done in a similar fashion to Amsterdam’s cafés.

Dr. Benedikt Fischer is a senior scientist in the social and epidemiological research department at CAMH. The organization released a legalization framework in 2014 that called for a government monopoly on marijuana sales and distribution.

“We believe that it’s the safest and most predictable system that will work toward the interests of public health,” Fischer told the Star.

He added government control is needed to keep private interests at bay.

When it comes to alcohol sales, commercialization associated with private sales “is associated with increases in levels of use” according to Rebecca Jesseman with the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA).

“Cannabis is not a benign substance,” said Jesseman, a senior policy adviser. “We want to make sure any regulatory approach we take is evidence-based and is implemented in such a way as to reduce the risks and harms associated with use.”

Thomas conceded there’s “a million questions to answer” about legalizing marijuana and he’d like to see all experts at the table. “I’ll make sure our union is part of that debate, because I think we’ve got something to offer.”

Provincial Finance Minister Charles Sousa told reporters Monday that with the feds just starting the process, the discussion was premature at Queen’s Park. “But we are of course willing to participate in those discussions moving forward,” Sousa said.

For its part, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario said in an emailed statement that any decisions would follow an official decision from both levels of government and it is not making any pitch on its own accord.

“Nonmedicinal marijuana is not currently legally sold and it would be up to federal authorities to decriminalize recreational marijuana. Should that occur LCBO would take direction from the provincial government as to any role for LCBO in the retailing of such,” said LCBO spokesperson Keeley Rogers.

Article source Metro Toronto

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