Ontario Plan to Sell Legal Weed No Match For B.C.’s Existing Industry

Article by Stephanie Ip, Vancouver Sun

Ontario plan to sell legal weed no match for B.C.'s existing industry. Dana Larsen at The Dispensary medical cannabis clinic on East Hastings street in Vancouver, BC Thursday, July 14, 2016. Larsen says a model like the one recently announced in Ontario likely would not work in B.C.

Ontario’s plan to sell marijuana from government-operated stores would never fly in B.C., a local pot advocate said.

Vancouver’s Dana Larsen suggested a provincial government store could never compete with established and independent dispensaries in offering the same variety of products that consumers seek – such as different strains and edibles – and that the Ontario government won’t be able to open shops fast enough to keep pace with demand.

“Police raids aside, I don’t think this model of legalization competes at all with what current dispensaries can offer,” he told Postmedia from Toronto, where he was attending the Karma Cup cannabis competition and festival on Saturday.

“The only way that they’re going to eliminate dispensaries under this model is repeated raids and that will not turn all those customers towards the legal stores – some of them might – but a lot of them will simply return to the underground black market where they came from.”

On Friday, the Ontario Liberal government announced its detailed plan to sell and distribute recreational marijuana in anticipation of the federal government’s legalization plans next summer. The province plans to set up as many as 150 dedicated store fronts across the province by 2020, with the shops being operated by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.

Those looking to buy will be subject to the same regulations and restrictions that apply to alcohol purchase and consumption; buyers must be 19 or older and consumption is permitted only in private residences. The first 40 stores will be opened next summer, around the same time Ontario introduces online marijuana sales.

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