Article by Joyanne Pursaga, Winnipeg Sun
Manitoba’s premier believes legal pot sellers will be forced to compete with gangs and lack a sufficient supply of the drug to do so.
Premier Brian Pallister he expects the “unrealistic” federal timeline that mandates pot sales be legalized by July 2018 will lead to direct competition between legal and illegal sellers. He plans to lobby fellow premiers at a first ministers meeting in Edmonton next week to join his call to delay that date.
“There’s no way that we’re going to supply the demand, except in part. So therefore, we’re moving into a situation where we’re going to compete gradually with gang distribution marijuana. Right there, we’re not in a position to take over the market with legal cannabis distribution systems because we don’t have enough production,” said Pallister.
“(It’s) pretty clearly understood we don’t have enough pot to sell but we’re supposed to be legalizing it in a year,” Pallister added.
Pallister said the imposed timeline to prepare for the change also puts road safety at risk.
“If we see any uptick in the numbers of … users, that will potentially lead to more accidents, more deaths,” he said.
Pallister said he plans to reveal his strategy for Manitoba’s commercialization of pot in about two weeks but refused to specify his take on where the drug should be sold.
But the communications director for Canada’s health minister said legalized pot will have to compete with the black market before it reaches the ultimate goal of eliminating illegal sales.
“At some point we will need to compete,” said Yves Comeau. “The objective is eventually the black market of cannabis disappears.”