Chamber Tells Province to Open Up Sale of Legalized Marijuana

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) released a letter to the Premier yesterday arguing that the private sector should have a role to play in any new legalized marijuana regime. In the letter the OCC argues that the government should create an open-bidding process for licenses to distribute marijuana that would be available to both public and private sector organizations.

We believe that a private-sector, licensing-based, and locally-oriented approach is one worth seriously considering.

As part of the Chamber’s letter, they outlined five principles for marijuana legalization policy design:

  1. Eliminate the underground economy
  2. Limits points of access
  3. Communities must be empowered
  4. Invest in addiction prevention and treatment
  5. Ensure products are subject to best-practice health regulation

A key element of the OCC’s proposal is to ensure that there are limited points of access for purchasing legalized marijuana by establishing a licensing regime that only auctions a limited number of licenses to both public and private sector organizations. According to the OCC:

Creating service delivery competition, structured by best-practice social responsibility standards, may create a virtuous ‘race-to-the-top’ whereby potential delivery agents are incentivized to be innovative in their application of social responsibility principles.

Of particular interest to municipal stakeholders, the Chamber is also advocating an approach whereby municipalities have a voice in the decision-making about where production and distribution facilities can be located.

In the case of a licensing model, for example, licenses should not be issued for communities which have voted against production or distribution facilities. As the province develops its marijuana policy, local government should be engaged so as to design an approvals process that is democratic.

The Chamber also recommends providing municipalities with revenue to ensure that prevention and treatment programs can be tailored to local needs.

Read the full letter here.

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