Seldom has a government been so out of touch with voters than the Kathleen Wynne’s provincial government approach to selling pot.
Remember, we are talking here not about the de-criminalization of the consumption of pot but the federal government making it full-out legal, or recreational, as you will, as of July 1, 2018.
The decision of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to legalize pot use was not a rogue one. It was one of his main planks of the last federal election that drove primarily youth, but also others, to rush to the ballot box to vote liberal.
You’d expect Wynne’s government to embrace the decision and facilitate the sale of pot. But no, what we’re getting is a puritanical, post-prohibition-era-style distribution system that will result in pot shaming those who had hoped that their federal liberal vote meant something.
Wynne’s method of following through with Trudeau’s wildly popular promise? Open LCBO-run pot shops. 40 next summer when the legalization kicks in, 80 by year end, then topping it up to 150 standalone marijuana stores by 2020. By contrast, there are over 800 LCBOs in Ontario.
To put it in perspective, given Ontario’s population of nearly 14 million, this translates into 0.00000571 stores per person the first year of legalization. How will this stem the flow of pot through the black market?
On Friday, Wynne dispatched her three princes of darkness to explain the evolution of the nanny state in dealing with pot.
Attorney General Yasir Naqvi wagged his fingers, sounding an ominous tone, distancing himself from his federal cousins. He said: “Legalization is taking place at the federal level. It’s not a matter of supporting or opposing.” Which is beyond the point. His job is to make it available in a way that won’t feed the black-market and doesn’t perpetuate the stigma associated with its use.
Finance Minister Charles Sousa in his baritone voice cheered about how well the “LCBO model works,” so let’s go that way. Sure it works! You want craft beer, you can only go to a certain supermarket where only a type of Ontario wine will also be sold. You might need to hunt down another supermarket for another type of wine. Corner stores? Don’t even think about it. Spirits? LCBO only. It’s a mishmash of rules that don’t make any sense. Great model indeed.
Then there was Health Minister Eric Hoskins talking the evils of marijuana and its health implications. A conversation held and concluded many years ago. Alcohol is far worse for your health.
Finally, in an ode to the mid-century style LCBOs, if you happen to make it to the government pot shop the actual stuff will be hidden from plain view. God forbid if your eyes made contact with it, you might have nightmares. Maybe we’ll also have to don a brown paper bag over our heads before entering the stores. You wouldn’t want your neighbour to see you there.
And the government promises not to use the stores as a cash cow. Don’t believe that one in a second. Booze and cigarettes are taxed to death. There’s no way it’ll be different for pot.
Trudeau’s promise to legalize pot has been turned into clickbait. It’s a betrayal of Trudeau’s extremely popular promise by Wynne’s liberals.
Wynne’s been leading a campaign-style government for the last year, giving away free pharma, free education, huge hikes to the minimum wage etc. Her backwards approach to making pot available may yet prove to be her albatross in next June’s election. You read it here first.