Article by Patrick Cain, Global News
Some time after next spring, Canadians will be able to legally buy marijuana for use purely for pleasure.
How will it be sold? That hasn’t been decided, and there’s a lot at stake for the potential players: a CIBC report earlier this year estimated the size of the national recreational cannabis market at up to $10 billion.
Everybody from existing licenced growers to public-sector unions, who would add members if provincial liquor store networks also sold pot, has weighed in. Revenue-hungry governments are hoping for the anticipated $5 billion in pot taxes.
There are four main options (one’s a non-starter, so really there are three):
- Mail-order from licenced growers
- Private sector storefronts, maybe based on existing dispensaries
- Stores run by provincial liquor store systems, maybe or maybe not in the same locations
- Probably not pharmacies – more on this below
Governments will face the same dilemma with legal recreational pot that they’ve struggled with for alcohol for generations – is their strategy more about maximizing revenue or more about limiting harm by controlling consumption? It’s possible (in theory) to balance the goals, but there will always be a tension between them.