Activists in Canada Worry About Cannabis Monopoly
Cannabis activists in Canada say that the Province of Alberta will not be able to compete with the black market if they use the same marijuana regulation model for Ontario set by the government.
The government wants to legalize weed in mid-2018 and plans to open 80 government operated dispensaries in Ontario, expanding to 150 dispensaries by the year 2020. Pot activists protested at Queen's park in Toronto over the weekend with concerns that the government will monopolize the industry with high taxes and prices. Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner said that with so few dispensaries in operation, the government won’t be able to compete with the illegal marijuana market.
It would seem that illegal dealers in Alberta are in agreement with that analogy. One man who has been dealing weed in the illegal market for two decades told CBC Calgary News that the government plan for recreational cannabis regulation won’t suppress the black market saying, “If it goes (sic) Ontario's model, I become richer. If they do private, they have a chance to compete.” The man also said that charging $10 per gram during specified hours, while he sells marijuana for $6 per gram with flexible availability is pretty much the proof in the pudding that his sales won’t be affected. Activists Wendy Little and Eric Nash have also said that they think the small number of dispensaries in the plan will do little to combat the illegal market.
Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley is also suggesting no online cannabis sales, making it even more difficult for rural communities to get marijuana legally. The wholesaler for the province will be The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, but no decision has been made as to whether the government will operate the stores or if they will be privately operated.
Niko Mann is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. She enjoys writing about activism, social justice, politics, education, marketing, and comedy.