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Consumer group pans P.E.I. pot plans, says four retail outlets, three suppliers not enough

Details are starting to come out about how P.E.I. plans to handle legalized marijuana, but do Islanders care about legalized marijuana. SUBMITTED PHOTO
A consumer advocacy group says P.E.I. has not planned enough recreational marijuana sales outlets to deter people away from buying the product illegally. SUBMITTED PHOTO

A consumer advocacy group says P.E.I. has not planned enough recreational marijuana sales outlets to deter people away from buying the product illegally.

David Clement, North American affairs manager with the Consumer Choice Center, says if the goal of legalization is keeping black market marijuana out of the hands of Islanders, P.E.I. will need to have more outlets and more companies supplying the pot.

“Our concern is having only four stores is not accessible enough,” said Clement, who works out of Toronto for the organization, which is based in Washington.

In December, the P.E.I. government released details about the plan for recreational marijuana once it become legal on July 1.

Recreational marijuana will be sold in four government-operated retail outlets in Charlottetown, Summerside, West Prince and Montague. Besides the four retail outlets, the province is also allowing e-commerce sales combined with home delivery.

Poll: How many retail outlets for cannabis do you think P.E.I. should have? 

Clement said that mail order helps with access, but the focus should be on increasing the number of retail outlets. In terms of how many retail outlets the province should be rolling out on July 1, Clement said that number should be determined by consumer market demand.

“I actually don’t think that anybody has the answer to that in the same way that I don’t think anybody has the answer to the amount of coffee shops that should exist on the Island or the amount of tobacco retailers that should exist on the Island,” he said.

“It’s largely what the market can bear. I would like to see cannabis treated in the same way. That’s probably the best way to ensure there is enough access to meet consumer demand – is letting that decision be made between consumers and the outlets.”

“It’s largely what the market can bear. I would like to see cannabis treated in the same way. That’s probably the best way to ensure there is enough access to meet consumer demand – is letting that decision be made between consumers and the outlets.”
-David Clement

Related: P.E.I. pot plans - marijuana will be sold in Charlottetown, Summerside, Montague, West Prince

On its website, the province suggests that selling in government outlets aligns with its focus of “getting rid of the illegal market for cannabis and keeping cannabis out of the hands of children.” As well, the province says the four locations were based on population density and “will allow the province to gauge sales in different areas of the province, and plan for future expansion if needed.”

Nova Scotia and New Brunswick also plan to sell recreational marijuana in government-operated outlets.

Clement also called the federal government’s 30-gram possession limit for adults “kind of silly” since there isn’t a limit for alcohol.

“Our position is there is no justification for that difference,” he said.

 

Want to wade into the debate? Write a letter to the editor and email it to letters@theguardian.pe.ca. Be sure to include a name, address and daytime telephone number where the author can be contacted. Letters should be no more than 250 words.

 

Clement is also concerned that the province has entered into supply agreements with only three companies – Canada’s Island Garden of Charlottetown, OrganiGram of Moncton, N.B., and Canopy Growth Corporation of Smith Falls, Ont. He likened it to there only being three brands of beer or wine available in liquor stores.

“I think people would be rightly upset. I think we need to have the same approach with legal cannabis that we have with alcohol,” he said.

“There’s still lots left to be answered, but we want to make sure the process is consumer friendly and consumer focused as we go through the process of legalization.”

The province’s department of finance directed inquiries to Andrew MacMillan, CEO of the P.E.I. Liquor Control Commission. MacMillan couldn’t be reached for comment on Monday.

 

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