Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says that province is not considering cannabis to be legally sold in liquor stores, even though legalization was a big part of Trudeau’s campaign. The Premier does see the “revenue opportunity” that legalized cannabis represents, but the debate over selling cannabis in liquor stores exposes the different approaches that even the politicians themselves would like to take. Wall has not given much attention to the idea of selling cannabis through the 75 provincially owned liquor stores. Wall commented that “We’re not looking for an expanded role. We’re actually looking in a different direction.” The Premier is alluding to his government’s proposed privatization of 40 of their stores, should the party be re-elected in the spring of 2016.
Premier Wall expressed that he is aware of the potential tax revenue that can be gained by the government being involved in the selling of or the taxation on legal cannabis. “There is a revenue opportunity, I think, for governments, obviously. That’s been the case in Colorado. I’m sure there’ll be lots of discussions around the table of provinces and the federal government in terms of the revenue piece, or the taxation piece to the extent one’s going to exist.”
The highest priority of the provincial government is safety and social issues of cannabis use, including how to go after impaired drivers according to Wall. Some of the premiers of other provinces such as Manitoba and Ontario, are more open minded to the idea of cannabis being sold in government-owned stores, yet Wall is not excited about that prospect. “We’re looking at other issues first, in terms of health and safety and we really haven’t though much about where it’s sold.”
He also touched on the topic of the Crown Insurer, SGI, tweeted a much talked about photo showing medical cannabis, captioned “High driving is impaired driving.” Soon after a spokesperson for the company claimed their intent was to show warnings of prescription medication, not just cannabis. Wall says that “I think there’s a national concern with this and I’m glad SGI is doing it. It’s not necessarily tied to our specific concerns around the Liberal promise.”
Considering that it wasn’t long ago that the city of Saskatoon raided a local compassion club, followed by the owner of the club confronting the mayor of the city and leaving him speechless, it will be interesting to see how the leader of the province deals with the plan to “legalize, regulate, and restrict.” Each province could have a different way of operating in the legalized cannabis business.