Ontario urged to rethink government cannabis retail monopoly

Photo by Sandro Schuh on Unsplash

Ontario’s new government is being urged to rethink its predecessor’s plan to open a small variety of provincially owned cannabis shops – or face the prospect of a thriving black marketplace for years to come.

Industry specialists and teachers say Ontario’s plan to open 40 retail storefronts and sometime 150 gained’t minimize it if the aim is to compete with, and ultimately get rid of, the black market.

Saskatchewan – with 1/10th of Ontario’s inhabitants – will open 51 retailers.

“The counterintuitive result of the government trying to protect the public by controlling the entire supply chain of marijuana is that they have put themselves in a worse competitive position relative to the black market, whereas what we should be doing is trying to make the legal market as competitive as possible,” stated Rosalie Wyonch, coverage analyst at Toronto-based C.D. Howe Institute.

To put the authorized business on a extra aggressive footing, she stated, Ontario ought to look to British Columbia, which can permit privately owned retail retailers to function alongside government-owned shops.

“With so few retail outlets, Ontario is unlikely to put much of a dent in the illicit market,” stated Jason Childs, affiliate professor of economics on the University of Regina.

Childs expects Ontario to transfer towards what’s being carried out in Western Canada.

“That’s one of the advantages of starting off with a government system – it’s easier for government to privatize than to nationalize.”

Current members in Ontario’s cannabis business acknowledge it’s too late to begin from scratch with a personal system.

Abi Roach, director of the Cannabis Friendly Business Association, is advocating for a combined private-public mannequin, the place the government will get its fingers within the pot however enterprise nonetheless get to create jobs.

“The government is going to spend so much money trying to figure out cannabis retail, when there are so many private businesses who want to be legal and pay taxes,” stated Roach, additionally the proprietor of Hotbox Holdings, a Toronto firm that develops branded cannabis and hemp merchandise.

Incoming Premier Doug Ford has promised consultations on the retail mannequin.

Matt Lamers might be reached at [email protected]

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