Article by Salma Ibrahim, CBC News
Protesters took to the lawns of Queen’s Park Saturday to highlight issues with what they’re calling the province’s “marijuana monopoly.”
“It’s unfair that the government that has persecuted us will charge high prices, tax us too high and control our industries,” Mark Emery, Toronto’s so-called “prince of pot” told CBC Toronto.
Emery, who says he has been arrested 30 times on cannabis-related charges, argues that the government is “taking the industry away from people who have cultivated it for 50 years.”
The province announced its framework to manage the sale and use of marijuana in early September. The plan includes an online ordering service and roughly 150 stand-alone stores.
The government also declared their intent to crack down on illegal pot shops in Ontario.
“If you operate one of these facilities, consider yourself on notice,” Attorney General Yasir Naqvi said at a Sept. 6 press conference.
But critics at the protest, including MPP Jack MacLaren, says the plan to open government-run stores next summer while cracking down on dispensaries undercuts the entire point of legalization.
Without competition, government-run cannabis stores will have no incentive to keep prices low and thus will not be able to discourage the street sale of low quality, unregulated products that are unsafe, the Carleton-Mississippi Mills representative said in an interview.