Ontario’s Pot Plan Aims To Protect Us From Ourselves: Neil Macdonald

Article by Neil Macdonald, CBC News

Ontario's pot plan aims to protect us from ourselves: Neil Macdonald Only government employees can be relied upon to properly retail cannabis, obviously. The new outlets will not allow people to actually see what they are buying. And no advertising. Or marketing. Just like cigarettes. (Canadian Press/CBC)

But of course the government of Ontario intends to make itself one of the biggest weed dealers in the world. And of course it’s going to award itself an absolute monopoly — the cannabis equivalent of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO).

Was there ever any doubt?

There’s a fortune to be made in peddling sin — governments already control booze and gambling in Canada, they don’t like competition and a whole bureaucracy wants in on the action. The self-appointed guardians of our rectitude.

Ontario’s public employees’ union, OPSEU, has been drooling over the prospect of all those secure new jobs, and began lobbying for the pot franchise the moment Justin Trudeau’s Liberals arrived in power, with their promise to legalize.

The unions and their government are even singing the same talking points: only government employees can be relied upon to properly retail cannabis. Private dispensaries are a danger by comparison (not to mention an economic threat). The substance may become legal, but private sales must be swept out of existence.

Ontario says it will initially open 40 outlets next July, rising to 150 in a few years. From the sounds of it, they will be austere, inherently scolding places, basically designed to make you apply for a perfectly legal product.

“Ontario’s retail model will … sell products in a safe and socially responsible manner to restrict access for minors and give consumers the information they need,” says the Ontario finance ministry in an official statement.

It is a law of politics that shamelessness pays, but only in Canada would it be taken to this level of nakedly self-serving, patronizing demagoguery without an indignant shove back from the consuming public. We’re just so used to it.

Because of federal regulations, the new outlets will not allow people to actually see what they are buying. And no advertising. Or marketing. Just like cigarettes.

Well, fine, except Ontario allows corner stores to sell cigarettes. There are usually signs advising that ID may be required to ascertain the customer’s age, and I’ve seen clerks ask for it.

It all seems pretty socially responsible to me, and tobacco use has declined massively over the years. Why, then, shouldn’t dispensaries, or, for that matter, corner stores, sell pot? Why can only government employees save us from ourselves?

But the real whopper isn’t the cigarette analogy. It’s alcohol.

study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, published in 2013, identifies alcohol as one of the greatest public health threats in Canada, a drug far more dangerous than cannabis, and its consumption is on the rise.

Read full article here.

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