‘Cruel and overly punitive’: Experts say Manitoba’s fine for growing pot at home misses the mark

CBC NEWS: David Clement, North American affairs manager for the consumer-advocacy group Consumer Choice Center, called the size of the fine “incredibly cruel and overly punitive.”

“Realistically, if someone violates the homegrown law, they’re not really harming anybody. In theory, they may be harming themselves, but cannabis is going to be legal so that should be out of the question,” Clement said in an interview on CBC Manitoba’s Radio Noon.

“The fine doesn’t match the infraction.”

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About David Clement

David Clement is the North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center and is based out of Oakville, Ontario. David holds a BA in Political Science and a MA in International Relations from Wilfrid Laurier University. Previously, David was the Research Assistant to the Canada Research Chair in International Human Rights. David has been regularly featured on the CBC, Global News, The Toronto Star and various other major Canadian news outlets.

CRTC requiring Bell and Corus to increase investment in Canadian content creation

MOBILESYRUP: In response, David Clement, North American affairs manager for Consumer Choice Center, released a statement blasting the CRTC over its latest decisions.

“The CRTC’s reversal is a significant blow to consumer choice. Canadians deserve to decide the content they want to consume, not be told by government what they have to watch,” said Clement.

“Simply put, Canadian content should be able to stand on its own two feet, without a mandate from government. If there is consumer demand for Canadian content, then companies will respond accordingly. The reversal on loosening Canadian content rules ultimately means that the government is telling consumers what they want to watch, and forcing companies to act on that false assumption.”

Clement even went so far as to question the CRTC’s role in the Canadian telecom industry over the changes. “Adding more red tape and more regulation to an already bloated industry won’t help consumers, and is incredibly paternalistic,” said Clement. “This consistent paternalistic meddling raises questions as to whether or not the CRTC should even exist as a telecom regulator.”

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About David Clement

David Clement is the North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center and is based out of Oakville, Ontario. David holds a BA in Political Science and a MA in International Relations from Wilfrid Laurier University. Previously, David was the Research Assistant to the Canada Research Chair in International Human Rights. David has been regularly featured on the CBC, Global News, The Toronto Star and various other major Canadian news outlets.

Banning cannabis at local level is bad policy

When the provincial Minister of Finance Vic Fideli announced Ontario’s cannabis roll out plan, most, if not all, in the cannabis space rejoiced regarding the move from public retail, to private retail.

Private retail significantly increases consumer access, which is a key component for curbing the black market. Not only does private retail curb the black market, it can be a significant boost to local economies in a way that government run stores aren’t.

Unfortunately, one significant provision in the province’s cannabis plan is slated to give prohibition a new face, that being local city councillors. In the province’s roll out they announced Ontario communities would be able to “opt-out,” meaning they could prohibit private retail stores from existing within municipal boundaries.

This provision has been quickly acted on by city councillors in cities across the province, with Oakville being one of them. Just four days after the provincial announcement, a significant portion of Oakville’s sitting town council announced that if they are re-elected, they will vote for Oakville to opt-out.

Having communities opt-out from all cannabis retail is short-sighted and ultimately counterproductive if you care about community safety or economic prosperity.

Banning retail sale in any given city doesn’t mean that consumers won’t be acquiring cannabis. All it means is that consumers will either continue to purchase it illegally, as they do now, or will have to buy it from a neighbouring town.

Encouraging consumers to continue to purchase the product illegally is a significant blow to consumer choice, but more importantly, consumer and community safety. We know far too well that prohibition doesn’t work, so one wonders why city councils are now seeking to replicate those conditions at the local level.

All these prohibitionists need to do is look at the California communities that have banned retail sale, despite cannabis being recreationally legal in the state. Consumers simply kept purchasing from the black market, creating pockets of prohibition statewide. The situation in these opt-out communities has gotten so bad that the state government has had to pass legislation overriding these local bans and allowing for cannabis delivery.

Those who support opting out will point out that consumers can still purchase the product online, via the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS), or that they can simply purchase cannabis from legal retail outlets in neighbouring towns.

The idea that the current consumers of cannabis are going to purchase online, over how they currently buy cannabis, is incredibly naive. Few consumers are going to purchase online, and wait three to five business days for their order to arrive in the mail, when a more accessible black market option is available. In fact, only having the online option signals to criminals that there is a demand to be met in communities with a retail ban.

The other alternative here shouldn’t be celebrated either. Pushing commerce outside of your city limits and into neighbouring towns is bad public policy, especially if one cares about increasing economic opportunity at the local level.

The legal cannabis retail market has the potential to generate hundreds of millions of dollars for these local economies. Opting out of cannabis retail simply means leaving millions of dollars of lost opportunity on the table.

The prospect of city councillors opting out of cannabis retail also highlights an immense level of hypocrisy when one considers the availability of alcohol. What justification could there be to ban retail sale of cannabis that wouldn’t also apply for alcohol? And yet, none of these councillors are seeking to pass motions to ban alcohol sales from their communities.

Lastly, allowing for cannabis retail won’t turn these communities into the Wild West, as some critics suggest. City councils would be well within their scope to use bylaws to ensure cannabis retail outlets aren’t near schools, or any place that might be undesirable or counterproductive.

For Ontarians in these opt-out communities, prohibition at the federal level will quickly be replaced with a new form of prohibition at the local level. We know that prohibitionist policies have continuously failed in the past, and now isn’t the time to replicate them.

Originally published at https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2018/08/21/banning-cannabis-at-local-level-is-bad-policy.html

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About David Clement

David Clement is the North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center and is based out of Oakville, Ontario. David holds a BA in Political Science and a MA in International Relations from Wilfrid Laurier University. Previously, David was the Research Assistant to the Canada Research Chair in International Human Rights. David has been regularly featured on the CBC, Global News, The Toronto Star and various other major Canadian news outlets.

Minor changes could have a major positive impact on Ontario’s cannabis plan

On Aug. 13, Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fideli announced the government’s plan for cannabis legalization. The keystone of the Progressive Conservatives’ policy is a reversal of the public retail monopoly model proposed by the former Liberal government, to instead opt for private retail provincewide. Although cannabis will be legal in October this year, storefronts won’t be available for consumers until at least April 1, 2019, after the government has gone through a public consultation period. In the meantime, Ontario cannabis consumers will only be able to order legal cannabis through an online outlet created by the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS).

Along with the private retail announcement, the government stated that municipalities would be able to “opt out” from cannabis activity, meaning that cities and towns will have the opportunity to prohibit cannabis retail outlets from being established within their municipal boundaries.

Lastly, in addition to strict age-of-purchase and impaired-driving restrictions, the PCs will enact a complete public consumption ban, similar to how alcohol is treated provincewide. This means all cannabis consumption will have to take place either in one’s home or on one’s private property.

Mr. Ford should be applauded for embracing private retail, but there are some key missteps with the plan as described. Luckily, these flaws can be easily remedied with simple policy alterations.

The move toward private retail is definitely a win for consumers, given that private retail enhances access, which helps stamp out the black market. That said, not having storefronts available on legalization day all but guarantees consumers will continue to purchase cannabis illegally until storefronts are available. Hundreds of thousands of Ontarians consume cannabis recreationally and all of them currently purchase it via illicit dealers. The thought that a government-run online outlet will be more accessible than how consumers currently purchase the product is optimistic at best, but unrealistic and destined to fail. Instead of delaying, Mr. Ford’s government should fast-track the retail permit process so that storefronts are available on Oct. 17.

Not having storefronts is just one of the major flaws with the government’s cannabis announcement. The second is the opt-out provision allowing communities to ban retail outlets within their municipal boundaries. While the desire to decentralize decision-making to local governments is understandable, all the Ford government is doing is giving cities and towns permission to recreate prohibition at the local level. This is exactly what is currently happening in California, where local retail bans are creating pockets of prohibition. Banning cannabis retail at the local level isn’t going to stop consumers from buying the product. It’s just going to prevent them from purchasing it legally, which ends up lining the pockets of organized crime.

The last significant issue with Ontario’s cannabis plan is the complete ban on public consumption. At first glance, the restriction may seem reasonable. Cannabis is an intoxicant and can be consumed in an obnoxious manner that bothers others. Despite this, banning public consumption for cannabis is heavily regressive and unfairly targets the poor. For Ontarians who rent, a growing group in today’s housing market, smoking indoors is almost always prohibited. Now, for those renters, outdoor consumption is prohibited as well. Both of those restrictions are worsened by the fact that the province currently doesn’t have any plans for indoor consumption in commercial settings. Without legal cannabis lounges, Ontarians who rent are almost entirely excluded from legal consumption, which is particularly unfortunate and cruel given that low-income neighbourhoods have historically been the ones most terrorized by the government’s faulty war on cannabis. To solve this, Mr. Ford could backpedal on the ban or simply legalize regulated consumption lounges. Mr. Ford has already shown willingness to halt the status quo with his move to suspend the progression of the Smoke Free Ontario Act. Allowing for cannabis consumption lounges would let people consume cannabis in licensed and controlled settings, where they aren’t bothering the public at large.

Even these slight changes could help ensure Ontario makes serious progress toward stamping out the black market while creating a legal cannabis market that is more equitable, just and consumer-friendly.

David Clement is the North American affairs manager at the Consumer Choice Center. Follow him on Twitter: @ClementLiberty

Original link: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/commentary/article-minor-changes-could-have-a-major-positive-impact-on-ontarios-cannabis/

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About Yaël Ossowski

Yaël Ossowski is a journalist and informational entrepreneur. He's currently deputy director at the Consumer Choice Center, and senior development officer for Students For Liberty. He was previously a national investigative reporter at Watchdog.org. He is currently seeking a Master’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics, Economics (PPE) at the CEVRO Institute in Prague. Born in Québec and raised in the southern United States, he currently lives in Vienna, Austria.

Group says province’s pot plan has major flaws

KITCHENERTODAY: An official with the Consumer Choice Center says the move to private retail for the sale of legal cannabis in Ontario is a “big win” for consumers.

“Private retail is more accessible, more likely to stamp out the black market, it’s more consumer friendly.” said David Clement, who is North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center.

He says one of the major flaws is the way legalization is being rolled out.

“There’s going to be a gap between legalization day and when these stores actually exist.” added Clement.

Ontario announced its retail plans to sell pot on Monday.

Initially it will be available online through a government agency called the Ontario Cannabis Store.

It won’t be available in any private stores until at least April 1, 2019.

“I don’t think or we don’t think that this is an accessible enough model to actually stamp out the black market.” said Clement.

“There’s hundreds of thousands of Ontarians who consume cannabis recreationally already. All of them get it via illegal means. The thought that this government run outlet is going to be accessible enough when it’s only through this online service, is hopeful at best, but unrealistic, and I think it’s ultimately destined to fail,” he told The Mike Farwell Show on 570 NEWS.

Clement says more aggressive steps need to be taken to change consumer behaviour.

“If you compare it to alcohol, you can go to a Beer Store, an LCBO, a grocery store, and hopefully soon convenience stores for alcohol. It needs to be as accessible as alcohol is…to help push people into the legal market as opposed to the black market.” he said.

The province won’t allow smoking in public, which Clement says is very unfair to low-income residents and people who rent.

“Because ultimately it leaves them with nowhere to consumer this legal product.” he added.

He would have supported something like cannabis lounges.

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About David Clement

David Clement is the North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center and is based out of Oakville, Ontario. David holds a BA in Political Science and a MA in International Relations from Wilfrid Laurier University. Previously, David was the Research Assistant to the Canada Research Chair in International Human Rights. David has been regularly featured on the CBC, Global News, The Toronto Star and various other major Canadian news outlets.

Restricting vaping in city’s new smoking bylaw draws ire of Consumer Choice Centre

PANOW: Now, the city is being criticized by the Consumer Choice Centre (CCC), who said the city is “wrong” to include vaping in its public smoking restrictions. The group represents consumers in over 100 countries and monitors regulatory trends across the globe.

“It doesn’t make any sense to treat vaping like smoking, especially given the evidence that vaping is an effective harm reduction tool for those who are trying to quit,” David Clement, the Toronto based North American Affairs Manager of the CCC wrote in a media release.

He added how treating vaping like smoking targets those “trying to make healthier choices,” and how bylaws like this “undermine efforts to move people away from cigarettes.”

“Prince Albert’s high smoking rate is exactly why vaping shouldn’t be treated like smoking,” he wrote. “Numerous public health agencies around the world have explained that smokers should be encouraged to make the switch.”

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About David Clement

David Clement is the North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center and is based out of Oakville, Ontario. David holds a BA in Political Science and a MA in International Relations from Wilfrid Laurier University. Previously, David was the Research Assistant to the Canada Research Chair in International Human Rights. David has been regularly featured on the CBC, Global News, The Toronto Star and various other major Canadian news outlets.

Cannabis Industry Reacts to Ontario’s Retail Strategy

CANNABIS INVESTING NEWS: David Clement, a Toronto-based North American affairs manager at the Consumer Choice Center, said the decision by Ontario to embrace private retail is a win for consumers and smart public policy.

Clement added that not having stores with the start of legalization in Canada means consumers will continue to buy cannabis from illegal dispensaries.

“Simply put, relying solely on online sales until April 1 isn’t an accessible enough model to sway people away from the black market,” Clement said. He suggested the province should fast track the application process to allow legal cannabis shops to be available on October 17.

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About David Clement

David Clement is the North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center and is based out of Oakville, Ontario. David holds a BA in Political Science and a MA in International Relations from Wilfrid Laurier University. Previously, David was the Research Assistant to the Canada Research Chair in International Human Rights. David has been regularly featured on the CBC, Global News, The Toronto Star and various other major Canadian news outlets.

Canada’s Transport Minister: Expanded Egypt and UAE air agreement a win for consumers

ETN: David Clement, Toronto based North American Affairs Manager of the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), said that “The expanded agreement is a step in the right direction regarding air transport liberalization. That said, the next step here has to be further liberalization.”

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About David Clement

David Clement is the North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center and is based out of Oakville, Ontario. David holds a BA in Political Science and a MA in International Relations from Wilfrid Laurier University. Previously, David was the Research Assistant to the Canada Research Chair in International Human Rights. David has been regularly featured on the CBC, Global News, The Toronto Star and various other major Canadian news outlets.

‘It’s embarrassing’: Advocates say we’ve waited long enough for ride-hailing

NEWS 1130: David Clement with the Consumer Choice Center says he suspects ride-hailing hasn’t already been approved in B.C. because the government is under pressure to protect the status quo.

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About David Clement

David Clement is the North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center and is based out of Oakville, Ontario. David holds a BA in Political Science and a MA in International Relations from Wilfrid Laurier University. Previously, David was the Research Assistant to the Canada Research Chair in International Human Rights. David has been regularly featured on the CBC, Global News, The Toronto Star and various other major Canadian news outlets.

Consumer advocate suggests failure to approve ride hailing in B.C. risks public safety

NEWS 1130: The North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center, David Clement, says the use of companies like Uber and Lyft helped significantly reduce drunk driving in the United States.

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About David Clement

David Clement is the North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center and is based out of Oakville, Ontario. David holds a BA in Political Science and a MA in International Relations from Wilfrid Laurier University. Previously, David was the Research Assistant to the Canada Research Chair in International Human Rights. David has been regularly featured on the CBC, Global News, The Toronto Star and various other major Canadian news outlets.