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Questionable plan

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Many are applauding the Ontario government for being the first province to unveil a plan to sell recreational marijuana ahead of Ottawa's promise to legalize the drug in Canada as of July 1, 2018.

But while Ontario deserves kudos for being first out of the gate, along with unveiling legislation to impose tough penalties for drug-impaired driving, the decision to limit the sale of marijuana to government-run, LCBO-style outlets is both contradictory and unlikely to be successful in its goal to eliminate the “black market.”

It should come as no surprise that Ontario—licking its lips at the “cash cow” the legal sale of marijuana represents—chose the government monopoly route as opposed to opening it up to the private sector. In fact, it cites the success of the LCBO regarding responsible alcohol purchases, and its effort to keep booze out of the hands of minors, as the need to establish strict controls.

But that rings hollow given the government's recent “creeping privatization” on alcohol by allowing the sale of beer and wine in stores. So why is that OK for alcohol but not marijuana?

Premier Kathleen Wynne herself already has left the door open to expanding pot sales in order to “tackle the illegal market”—before the plan even has taken effect! Does this sound like someone who has faith in the direction her government is taking?

In a related issue with local implications, the province's plan doesn't differentiate between recreational and medicinal marijuana—an omission that's understandably irksome to Angela Olson, owner of the Rainy River Cannabis Collective here, and her clientele.

Ontario did unveil a plan to meet the federal government's fast-approaching deadline of July 1, 2018. Whether it's the right one is questionable.

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