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Angela Kokott: The Alberta government should stay out of retail pot

Joe Mahoney / The Canadian Press

July 1, 2018, will be here before you know it and so will legalized marijuana.

We have a pretty good idea who will be able to buy it – anyone 18 years and older – and where the shops will be located, with the Alberta government defining in strict terms the distance from schools, community centres, liquor stores and each other.

WATCH BELOW: Alberta seeks public input on marijuana rules

Click to play video 'Alberta seeks public input on marijuana rules' Alberta seeks public input on marijuana rules
Alberta seeks public input on marijuana rules – Jun 2, 2017

READ MORE: Alberta government details pot plan, proposes 18 as minimum age

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The big question is: who will be selling cannabis?  Will there be government owned-and-operated stores or licensed and regulated private sales?

You only have until Oct. 27 to complete the province’s online survey collecting Albertans’ views on how the new world of legalized recreational marijuana will look – and I urge you to register your opinion.

Not surprisingly, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) is urging the province to sell cannabis in government-run stores.

READ MORE: Southern Alberta marijuana business growth exploding ahead of legalization

The AUPE can argue government-run stores will ensure cannabis doesn’t end up in the hands of youth. It’s an argument that might have worked if we still had government-run liquor stores, but that all changed back in the nineties. Since then, private retailers have shown they can responsibly sell liquor.

WATCH BELOW: Albertans show support for marijuana at 4/20 rally at legislature

Click to play video 'Albertans show support for marijuana at 4/20 rally at legislature' Albertans show support for marijuana at 4/20 rally at legislature
Albertans show support for marijuana at 4/20 rally at legislature – Apr 20, 2017

READ MORE: 12 medical marijuana producers come together to form cannabis co-operative

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Alberta’s economy has been struggling over the last number of years. This is an opportunity for Alberta to diversify its economy but the government has to ensure that diversification is driven by the private sector and not unions.