Psst — Government Agency Asks If You Want Some Really Good Stuff: Don Pittis

Article by Don Pittis, CBC News

ANALYSIS Psst — Government agency asks if you want some really good stuff: Don Pittis Ontario's liquor board, a large and sophisticated dealer in wine and spirits, is expanding. A home grower displays marijuana buds in his house in Montevideo, Uruguay. Canadian government monopolies like the Liquor Control Board of Ontario are highly sophisticated in the business of wine and spirits, but they have a lot to learn about selling recreational pot

When Conservative Premier Howard Ferguson founded the Liquor Control Board of Ontario in 1927, the new Crown corporation was by no means a sophisticated purveyor of wines and spirits.

Now Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne plans to sell recreational cannabis through the same agency.

The federal government’s plan is that beginning on July 1, 2018, adults will be allowed to purchase fresh and dried cannabis, cannabis oils and seeds and plants for cultivation. Provincial governments will set up their own regulatory systems.

The original purpose of the LCBO was to limit and control a substance that, only a few years previously, the majority of Canadians had believed was harmful and even dangerous.

Since those early days, the provincial liquor monopoly — like others across Canada — has become a discriminating buyer and retailer of the world’s finest wines and spirits.

As the government moves into the role once performed by those private enterprise professionals commonly called drug dealers, the question is whether the LCBO can cultivate the same kind of sophistication and trust it has developed as a seller of wine.

Just as in the post-Prohibition 1920s when alcohol became legal again, Canadians are far from unanimous that pot should be legalized at all.

Read full article here.

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