As the federal government continues its hazy pathway to legalizing marijuana, one key question the Liberals will need to answer is, where will weed be sold?
Bill Blair, former Toronto police chief and now parliamentary secretary to the Justice minister, has been tapped by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take the lead on changing Canada’s pot legislation and he’s said that current prohibition simply isn’t work.
But speaking Wednesday during a public policy forum, he said there is no timetable for legalizing marijuana.
“What we’re hearing from Canadians is that they want it done expeditiously, but they want it done right,” Blair said. His first task towards legislation will be establishing a task force with members from all-three levels of government to hear from public health and substance abuse experts on the issue.
Legalizing marijuana could also be big business in Canada and create a $10 billion a year industry, according to a January report by CIBC World Markets.
Here’s a look at some of the different ways pot could be sold in Canada.
“We’ve been looking at this for a number of years now,” John Tse, London Drugs’ vice-president of pharmacy, told Global News. “Probably five or six years ago we started looking at what happens if it becomes legal.”
Tse says London Drug pharmacists will be safely trained when it comes to filling pot prescriptions
“We will fill it as a normal prescription so that we create a profile, we know exactly who the patient is, we’ll check their medication history, any kind of risk factors and then provide the product,” he said.
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Currently, there are roughly 30 licensed suppliers that sell online. Bruce Linton, chairman and CEO of Canopy Growth Corp., said he could see the pharmacy model as being “supplemental” to the current system.
“The people who are getting access via Canada Post courier works really well,” said Linton. “The patient interacts directly with the producer on strains, on packaging … and then we evolve our operation to reflect those requirements.”
The Canadian Pharmacists Association said it is concerned about the health effects of marijuana and cautioned the government before proceeding with legalization.
“CPhA is currently reviewing its existing policies to ensure its policy position regarding pharmacist dispensing of medical marijuana reflects patient safety in this evolving area,” the CPhA said in a statement.
Another model that has been embraced by the provincial governments like Ontario and B.C. is similar to how beer and liquor is currently sold.
“It makes sense to me that liquor distribution mechanism that we have in place, the LCBO, is very well suited to putting in place the social responsibility aspects that would need to be in place,” Wynne said about recreational users in December.
READ MORE: LCBO ‘very well suited’ to sell marijuana
British Columbia has also eyed the idea of selling pot within the provinces’ liquor stores. The province, unlike Ontario, uses a combination of both private and public retailers. And in Quebec, the province has hinted it would consider selling pot in SAQ (Société des alcools du Québec) outlets.
Many Canadians can get their medicinal pot from dispensaries sprinkled across the country.
Despite being illegal, dozens of dispensaries operate in B.C. and other provinces.
The RCMP and Health Canada have issued warnings to dispensaries leading to several raids and closures marijuana shops.
While the federal government works on formal legislation, some dispensaries have asked to work with municipal governments on regulation.
On Wednesday, medical marijuana patients won a huge court decision when a federal judge struck down federal regulations restricting the rights of patients to grow their own cannabis at home. But where non-patients will go to get their pot is yet to be decided.
From the cloudy “coffeeshops” of Amsterdam to retail stores in Colorado, other countries could provide a blueprint for marijuana sales.
Opened since the 1970s, coffee shops in the Netherlands have a reputation for drawing pot enthusiasts from around the world. According to Amsterdam’s tourism website, you must be 18 or over and have ID to buy weed from licensed shops throughout the city.
Retail stores have selling pot in Colorado since marijuana became in since 2012.
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Under the law any adult 21 and over is allowed to possess up to 28 grams, but out-of-state residents can only buy up to seven grams in a single transaction, according to the Colorado Pot Guide.
Under state law, stores can’t open before 8 a.m. and they can’t stay open later than midnight. However some cities have set more restrictive store hours. In Denver, recreational marijuana shops can’t be open past 7 p.m.
Colorado also has separate medical marijuana stores where you are required to present a medical marijuana license or ‘red card.’
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