Manitoba Looks to Private Sector to Help Roll Out Marijuana

Article by Jacqueline Thorpe, Jen Skerritt, and Sandrine Rastello, Bloomberg

Manitoba Looks to Private Sector to Help Roll Out Marijuana. Province issues expression of interest for market partners Canada’s move to legalize sales feels ‘rushed,’ minister says. Marijuana plants stand in a room at the grow facility for Sense of Healing dispensary in Denver, Colorado, U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015. The $3.5 billion U.S. cannabis market is emerging as one of the nation's most power-hungry industries, with the 24-hour demands of thousands of indoor growing sites taxing aging electricity grids and unraveling hard-earned gains in energy conservation. Photographer: Matthew Staver/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Manitoba is studying whether to involve the private sector in rolling out sales of marijuana in the Canadian province — a contrast to Ontario’s plan to sell the drug in government-run stores.

Manitoba has issued an expression of interest for potential partners in the pot industry, Finance Minister Cameron Friesen said Tuesday at the Bloomberg Canadian Fixed Income Conference in New York. The province will gauge interest in the production, distribution and retail sales of marijuana, according to the tender, which closed earlier this month.

Friesen said the government should delay its July legalization date as the process feels “rushed.” There’s no set sobriety test and no solid view at what age pot smoking should be considered legal, for example, he said.

Most provinces have yet to clarify how they plan to sell marijuana. Ontario was the first province to announce its plans, which call for the Liquor Control Board of Ontario to open as many as 150 government-run pot stores by 2020.

Manitoba doesn’t view marijuana as a big revenue source and is making the health and safety of citizens a top priority, Friesen said. Quebec’s Finance Minister Carlos Leitao made similar remarks at the Bloomberg conference and said his province’s response will be driven by efforts to limit the negative public-health effects of cannabis.

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