Canadians now have an idea of when they will be able to purchase recreational marijuana, who can buy it and how much, but where and how cannabis is sold remains up to provinces that are offering only vague opinions on the eventual retail rules for the drug.
Now that the federal task force has recommended against selling cannabis in liquor stores – an idea floated in British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario – it is unclear whether sales will be at government-run outlets, pharmacies or private shops. The panel recommended provinces and territories control the wholesale distribution of marijuana, but work closely with municipalities to create their own approach to selling recreational pot, which Ottawa expects could happen two years from now.
The panel’s findings echoed some of Vancouver’s rules to keep its dispensaries and their products away from kids, but British Columbia was clear it would prefer not to entrench the market position of these illegal stores that exploded on the West Coast and then spread to Toronto.
“I’m not impressed [with dispensaries]. It’s a free-for-all out there as far as I’m concerned,” said B.C. Solicitor-General Mike Morris, a former Mountie who added that marijuana has never touched his lips.
“A lot of these dispensaries don’t have public health forefront in their minds, and it is in ours.”
Michael McLellan, a Toronto-based spokesman for a pot-dispensary advocacy group called the Canadian Cannabis Retail Council, welcomed the possibility of independent “dedicated storefronts” to sell recreational marijuana. His group, which grew out of a Toronto coalition formed after raids on dozens of Toronto dispensaries last May, is willing to accept regulations to ensure its products are safe, he said.