Who would have thought that New Brunswick would be the first Canadian province to make supply deals with two of the country’s biggest legal marijuana companies?
Organigram and Canopy Growth will supply a staggering 9 million grams of pot to the province per year for the adult recreational market.
That is an incredible amount of pot for a province with a population of only 747,000, and I have to wonder if New Brunswick will be picking up the slack they see as inevitable in the neighbouring province of Quebec, where the Liberal government is dragging its feet on its plan and whining about the extra workload involved.
Indeed, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Quebec is the only Canadian province not ready for the national July 1, 2018 legalization date — and if Quebecers ultimately see a watered-down legalization plan that ensures the survival of the current illegal pot market.
I won’t theorize about politicians’ ulterior motives here, but I am suspicious of anyone who seeks to limit the sale of legal pot — and the taxes it would generate — and consequently keep the black market flourishing.
But New Brunswick is merely a hop, skip and a jump away for many Quebecers who might be willing to buy some of the 9 million grams available in that province.
Of course, there are flaws with the federal plan, as Quebec points out, but they are not serious enough to push back the July 1 date. Quebec’s health minister points to questions about edible pot products, hashish, growing plants at home and law enforcement.
They are valid questions, but quite easily dealt with in plenty of time — if they stop dragging their feet and whining about the extra work.
Edible pot products won’t be available in stores next July. But people have been making pot brownies, cannabis butter etc. for decades from the ounces of grass they’ve been buying from their local dealers. That won’t change. Sure, provinces could make more money if they sell the finished products, but that is just too much work for them at this point.
Hashish was never part of the pot legalization plan, and I doubt there has been any good hash in Quebec for the last decade or two. It’s a moot point, because nobody really cares all that much.
And the argument that the police cannot enforce a four-plant-only policy in private homes is totally laughable — because police have, overall, done a pretty lousy job in this department since the 1960s. The health minister is saying he may not allow Quebecers to grow any pot at all at home. Right. Good luck with that. Are the police going to go house to house searching for a few plants? If they find someone growing four at home, will the court system really want to prosecute this and have to go through the inevitable appeals all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada?
The possession limit being set by the federal government is both unrealistic and hypocritical. Apparently, people will only be able to possess 30 grams. Hey, are they also planning to limit the amount of alcohol you are allowed to possess? Say, two bottles of wine? Six bottles of beer? Realistically, people will have as much pot in their homes as they want. They might even put it in the wine cellar in special jars labelled with brand and year etc.
I expect Ontario and other provinces will be inking deals with pot companies in the weeks to come, and if Quebec doesn’t do the same, it may not be able to supply its citizens by July 1 because the big pot companies can only produce so much — and they are also supplying a medical marijuana market as well as foreign interests. And maybe that is Quebec’s plan, because the Liberals don’t seem to really want to legalize it at all. If they drag their feet long enough and don’t ensure supply, there might not be any legal pot left to buy and Quebecers will have to go to New Brunswick or Ontario to buy it, obtain it by mail order, or keep on buying it on the street.
The problem with the latter is, as the opioid overdose crisis gets worse — as it is predicted will happen — there is a chance it could end up in street pot and start killing people who might have bought legal pot in a shop supplied by the big marijuana companies.
This may all become an election issue in Quebec, and the Liberals’ mishandling of the whole affair could be the final nail in the coffin of an arrogant government that doles out tax money money to its corporate pals like Bombardier while cutting budgets in the health-care system and allowing hospital ER wards to be understaffed.
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