Quebec should embrace cannabis to promote the economy

The CAQ’s anti-pot stance is sure to hurt consumers and citizens in Quebec.

The new Quebec premier Francois Legault of the Coalition Avenir Quebec says he wants to put more money in the pockets of Quebecers.

And now that the CAQ has the mandate of a majority government, his words will soon turn into actions.

Legault and the CAQ have already declared they want more of a role for the private sector in health care and want to eliminate bureaucracy. Added to that, they want to cut taxes across the board.

In addition, the CAQ has put the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) on notice, saying that the state agency “profits from its monopoly status to take advantage of consumers,” and the time has come to privatize it.

Each of these proposals represent historical opportunities for consumers and entrepreneurs.

But when it comes to cannabis, which was legalized on Wednesday nationwide, the CAQ is wrong. Their anti-pot stance is sure to hurt consumers and citizens in Quebec.

The Most Restrictive Laws

As the Globe and Mail detailed last week, Quebec will have the most restrictive laws in the country when cannabis is legalized.

In the cannabis regulations passed by the previous Quebec Liberal Party, consumers in Quebec will be banned from growing the plant at home, and will only have 25 stores to choose from across the province, including just four in Montreal. Even more, prices will be fixed by the new SQDC and customers will only be allowed to have 150 grams of dried cannabis at home. Ontario, on the other hand, will open up 40 stores by July 2019, allowing consumers to buy online in the meantime. In Saskatchewan, up to 60 permits will be handed out to private retailers. Manibota is the only other province to ban home growing.

The CAQ voted against the Liberals’ provincial plan in June and have indicatedthey want even more regulations, including a ban on public consumption and an age limit of 21 years old.

For Legault and the CAQ, the “commodification” of cannabis is a bad idea that Quebec has been forced to accept.

That said, will the CAQ’s sour opinion on cannabis ensure Quebec is left behind in the green economic boom?

An economy both green and strong

In 2019, the cannabis market is expected to reach $1 billion, representing a fourth of the national total.

That represents not only millions in additional revenue for the province via taxes, but also an invitation to innovation for hundreds of entrepreneurs and innovators who will respond to the new demand of the population. That’ll mean more investment and more jobs across the economy. Cannabis stores will need goods and services they’ll receive from the market, and all businesses around them will benefit. It’s a win-win scenario.

As such, it’s a reality that will only come to fruition if we have a government that offers us simple, effective laws that prove conducive to the new market of cannabis.

The problem with a restrictive cannabis law regime is simple: the more restrictive it is, the more likely consumers are to stay in the black market to acquire the product. According to Deloitte, only 47 percent of Quebecers have the intention of even using the legal cannabis market. The majority will still in the black market, far from government’s regulations and taxing authority.

Is that the CAQ’s grand plan? We hope not.

The legalization of cannabis in Canada is a historic occasion to demonstrate our capacity to be an innovative, smart, and entrepreneurial country with sound and effective public policies.

That’s the economic message the CAQ wanted to send voters at the last election. If they want to continue flying that flag, they’re going to have to open up to the wonders of cannabis.

Yaël Ossowski is an economic journalist and deputy director of the Consumer Choice Center.

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About Yaël Ossowski

Yaël Ossowski is a journalist, activist, and writer. 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 and chief Spanish translator at Watchdog.org, and worked at newspapers and television stations across the country. He received 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.

Advocacy group criticises Canadian cannabis plain-packaging regime

WORLD TRADEMARK REVIEW: Advocacy group criticises Canadian cannabis plain-packaging regime – The Consumer Choice Center (CCC), a global advocacy group focused on consumer choice and market access, has issued a strongly-worded press release on plain packaging in Canada. In it, the group criticises the Canadian government for its strict branding and packaging restrictions on the legal cannabis market. A key contention is that the government has applied its tobacco plain-packaging regime and applied it to cannabis products. At a news conference, David Clement, North American affairs manager for the CCC, claimed the Canadian government “seems committed to treating adult consumers like children”, adding: “What we’ve seen is that Health Canada and our federal government are regulating products with complete disregard for consumers, and complete disregard for a continuum of risk. Our worry now is what started with tobacco has moved to cannabis, and now will move to other products, such as soft drinks, alcohol and various other food items.” The suggestion of a plain packaging ‘domino effect’ has been warned about since Australia introduced the world’s first such regime. It appears these concerns continue. (TJL)

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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.

Pressure increases on Ontario to ban vaping displays to protect teens from addiction

TORONTO STAR: On the cannabis portion of the bill, a lobby group called the Consumer Choice Centre warned allowing municipalities to ban private marijuana stores within their boundaries will create “prohibition zones” where the criminal black market will continue to thrive.

“Waiting up to three business days for a package to arrive in the mail, which you have to be physically present to receive, is not accessible enough,” spokesman David Clement said in regards to the official government online sales channel, the Ontario Cannabis Store.

READ MORE

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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.

District of Elkford Approves Cannabis Bylaws

SUMMIT 107 FM: After the District gave second and third readings to the smoking regulation bylaw, the Consumer Choice Centre told Summit 107 that they feel these rules “unfairly target the poor” since lower-income residents tend to rent their accommodations. Landlords have the ability to ban cannabis use on rental properties, so the group argues that, for those individuals, it will essentially be as if legalization is not happening at all.

McKerracher declined the opportunity to comment on the Consumer Choice Centre’s statements.

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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.

Federal Government Plain Packaging Regulations Completely Disregard Consumers and Limit Product Choice

The Federal Government of Canada is enacting strict branding and packaging restrictions on the legal cannabis market. More specifically, Health Canada has taken the framework of plain packaging tobacco products including cigarettes and cigars, and applied many aspects of that legislation to how legal cannabis products must appear. This mandate from Health Canada limits consumer choice, according to the Consumer Choice Center, and more importantly, prevents consumers from selecting products based on their personal choice.

Speaking at news conference yesterday held in the Centre Block on Parliament Hill, David Clement, North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center (CCC) said the Federal Government seems committed to treating adult consumers like children. The branding restrictions placed on tobacco products, and now cannabis products, shows a disturbing trend of paternalism creeping further into the lives of adult consumers. It’s a dangerous precedent and raises the question of what products will be targeted next.

“What we’ve seen is that Health Canada and our federal government are regulating products with complete disregard for consumers, and complete disregard for a continuum of risk. Our worry now is what started with tobacco has moved to cannabis, and now will move to other products, such as soft drinks, alcohol and various other food items,” said David ClementToronto-based North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center (CCC).

CCC has launched the Smokers Vote initiative where consumers of cannabis, tobacco products and cigars can raise their concerns about plain packaging regulations directly with their elected representatives and engage in direct democracy.

About the Consumer Choice Center

The Consumer Choice Center is a global advocacy group focused on consumer choice and market access. The CCC monitors regulatory trends around the world, works with consumers in over 100 countries, and engages with policy makers to highlight how certain regulations impact consumer choice.

For more information: http://www.smokersvote.org

Originally published at http://www.tacticsmagazine.com/landingpages/cnw-global-retail-news/?rkey=20181012C2227&filter=5491

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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.

Pressure increases on Ontario to ban vaping displays to protect teens from addiction

F3NEWS: On the cannabis portion of the bill, a lobby group called the Consumer Choice Centre warned allowing municipalities to ban private marijuana stores within their boundaries will create “prohibition zones” where the criminal black market will continue to thrive.

“Waiting up to three business days for a package to arrive in the mail, which you have to be physically present to receive, is not accessible enough,” spokesman David Clement said in regards to the official government online sales channel, the Ontario Cannabis Store.

READ MORE

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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-rights advocates criticize strict plans for pot packaging

IPOLITICS: According to the Consumers Choice Centre, which has booked a mid-morning slot at the Centre Block press theatre to make its case to Hill reporters, the move will make it more difficult for consumers to choose cannabis products “based on their personal choice” — which, they will contend, seems to commit the government to “treating adult consumers like children.”

It also sets what they see as a “dangerous precedent.” What, they ask, “will be targeted next: snack foods, soft drinks and beer?”

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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

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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.

Health Canada announces fees to recover costs of regulating cannabis

CHEK: The government says cost recovery will reduce the costs to Canadians, but the Consumer Choice Centre (CCC) says the new fees will just be passed on to consumers.

“Why are they estimating that it will cost over half a billion dollars in expenditure, not including law enforcement costs, to enforce the Cannabis Act?” CCC North American Affairs Manager David Clement said in a statement.

“This raises some serious red flags regarding the overly bureaucratic, and burdensome, framework that has been created in Ottawa. Surely there has to be a way that legalizes cannabis, enacts sensible consumer-focused regulation, without it costing half a billion dollars.”

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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.

Canadians getting soaked by hidden booze taxes

Federal ‘escalator tax’ effectively hides annual increases, removing discussion from the democratic process

Doug Ford’s “Buck A Beer” proposal has made alcohol regulation a topic of discussion again. Many working class Ontarians praise Ford’s move, even as just a gesture, because it showed consumers that help was on the way to stop rising prices.

Although “Buck A Beer” was designed to give consumers some relief, Premier Ford still plans on increasing Ontario’s beer tax, and has been rightly criticized for it. On Nov. 1, the tax on draft and non-draft beer will increase by three cents per litre, nearly a 10 per cent increase.

That said, there is another, much larger, discussion to be had when it comes to alcohol policy, specifically the federal government’s escalator tax on beer, wine, and spirits. Most consumers don’t know that 47 per cent of the price of beer goes directly to government.

When we look at spirits, that figure is even more astonishing: 80 per cent of the price of a bottle of spirits is tax. What makes these figures more troubling and worrisome for consumers, is that due to the federal government’s alcohol escalator tax, the tax on all alcohol will automatically increase each and every year, forever.

The escalator tax will mandate that the sin tax on alcohol increases, at a rate indexed to inflation, each year on April 1, regardless of who is in office.

The impact of this tax will obviously disrupt brewers and distillers who make these products, but more importantly, it will impact consumers, and disproportionately harm low-income consumers. For those low-income consumers, perpetual tax increases mean each and every year they will have to spend more on these products. For many, this seems like cruel punishment for the crime of wanting to enjoy an alcoholic beverage and socialize, or relax.

Comparing how alcohol is taxed in the United States rubs salt in the wound for Canadian consumers. For the average American, buying a case of beer has $4.12 in taxes associated with it. For the average Canadian, the tax paid on that same case of beer is over five times higher, at $20.31. The federal tax rate on beer in Canada is 2.8 times higher than in the United States, while the average provincial tax rate is over six times higher than the average U.S. state tax rate.

The same is true for excise duties for spirits. The excise tax rate on a bottle of spirits in Canada is 83 per cent higher than the tax rate in the United States. While taxes go up on Canadians, our American friends are having their tax burden reduced. It’s pretty clear that Canadian consumers are getting a raw deal when it comes how our government treats us.

Those who support these sin taxes support them for two reasons. The first is the claim that higher taxes will discourage consumption. The second is that increasing taxation will increase government revenues. But these reasons contradict each other. If sin taxes discourage use, then obviously government revenue won’t increase. If sin taxes don’t discourage use, then the tax is nothing more than a tax grab. Advocates on the other side of this issue have been simultaneously perpetuating these contradictory justifications, and no one has called them out for it.

At the end of the day we are talking about adult consumers, and adult consumers deserve to be treated with respect, as adults. Before any new taxes are introduced, consumers should be consulted, or at the very least given the opportunity to vote for politicians who either are in favour, or oppose, new taxes.

The escalator tax removes that discussion from the democratic process and eliminates consumers from the discussion all together. The government needs to stop its hammering away at the disposable incomes of Canadians, and let adult consumers enjoy these products in a responsible way.

David Clement is the North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center. Follow him on Twitter at @ClementLiberty

Originally published at https://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/opinion-story/8942846-canadians-getting-soaked-by-hidden-booze-taxes/

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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.