With the passage of the bill legalizing recreational marijuana (as of October 17) having received Royal Assent, pot will soon be coming to a retail store (somewhat) near to you. But with the recent change in government, where that store will be and whether those locations will continue to be managed by the LCBO in distinct stores separate from the existing LCBO locations, as the Liberals had planned, is up in the air.
Since the legalization of pot is a relatively new thing, prudence would seem to suggest that keeping a close hand on the helm would allow the government to plot a better course than would the Liberal concept or a wider free market approach that the new premier has suggested is his preference.
Although the future course for the sale of alcohol seems to be all about providing a broader range of outlets for that controlled substance, the regime for marijuana should involve a closer hand for the foreseeable future. What better location could there be than to integrate pot sales into the existing LCBO outlets.
Of course, as with any major expansion of product, the provincial liquor store would have to juggle existing offerings and retails space to accommodate the new product, but this is hardly anything new to the corporation—witness the recent blooming of craft breweries and the plethora of boutique liquor distilleries that are blossoming like rampant dandelions across the provincial landscape. All of which have been accommodated with little or no stress visible to the public—certainly LCBO profits have not appeared to have been hampered.
By keeping the sale of marijuana in existing (perhaps expanded) LCBO locations, where staff are already well-versed in the art of spotting would be underage patrons, the roll-out of the retail sale of cannabis could not only be well monitored, but thanks to the existing bricks and mortar locations would require far less expanded government infrastructure than most other alternatives.
Opening up the sale of marijuana to an unrestricted free market approach, a pot in every confectionary if you will, could not be considered in the public interest—at least at this time.
Perhaps, as the retail availability of cannabis matures, expanding the available locations for its sale might become a viable concept, but for now a tight hand on reins would be the prudent approach.
Of course prudence and caution are hallmarks of the traditional Conservative brand, or at least they used to be. Early indications are that the province is working on the “watching pennies” approach to budgetary constraint, also a long-held conservative approach, even if it has yet to be demonstrated that there is any overarching plan underpinning these financial considerations. We certainly hope that prudence and caution make an early return to the Progressive Conservative mindset as the government moves.