S1E7 - The Government

 Why is the recreational cannabis age being set at 19 in Manitoba?  Why do four big companies have a monopoly on recreational sales?  Did the government look back at prohibition of alcohol to plan for legalization of recreational cannabis?  Michael Legary, a spokesperson for the Government of Manitoba update Kirk and Trevor about the Province's plans as legalization approaches

Sunday, 03 June 2018 22:14

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Episode Transcript

Trevor:  Kirk, we're back.

Kirk:  Hey Episode 7 Reefer Medness.

Trevor:  Reefer Medness - The Podcast is back on the air. We had a great, great interview that we just wrapped up. You were talking to.

Kirk:  I was talking to Michael Legary. Michael Legary is the Priorities and Planning Secretariat for the Manitoba government.

Trevor:  So, yeah, he's a civil servant. So he said several times, I think he answered as well as he could most of the time. But like he said, sort of off air at the end. If elected politician says something different, they trump what he said. But I thought he was very transparent and told us everything he could.

Kirk:  Yeah. And it was a good conversation. I mean, when I review this, what is Manitoba doing? Manitoba is trying to encourage business. As a conservative government, they're trying to encourage business, but they're doing it baby steps. Is that a word?

Trevor:  Sure. I'm going to say that maybe if I was a local business person, I might not like the way they're doing it, because, you know, why can't I open up a pot shop tomorrow instead of just these four big players? But he does get into at least some of their thought process on why.

Kirk:  I don't necessarily like that. I'm a little I'm a little worried about some of the small businesses that are currently existing in Manitoba. The head shops, people that have been catering to the medicinal market. They may be pushed out when these when these four companies come in and set up, they've got a 12-month lead, you know, they're hitting the road for months in advance.

Trevor:  Yeah. And this would be the thing like if, you know, if you're a small business and suddenly a for our purposes, a giant player comes in and, you know, is allowed to both sell the recreational marijuana and all the paraphernalia that goes along with it, well what do you do if you're just a local head shop who's selling paraphernalia right now? Is anybody going to still come down to your shop if they can get the stuff down, all the stuff they need down the road?

Kirk:  Yeah, that's an issue. The other the other part of this conversation I found that was interesting, they are giving themselves two years to get rid of 50% of the black market, now  I think Colorado said about five years, right?

Trevor:  Yeah. I've heard a few interviews with that one, too, about Colorado and. Yeah, two years, you know, I guess we'll give them credit. They're being ambitious. But the black market, the illegal market, the criminal market, whatever you want to call it, they've got, I don't think they're going to go away quickly. And he does talk about that. He actually talks back to alcohol prohibition. But the black market is inherently cheaper than than the legal market. So it's, I don't think it's going to go away fast.

Kirk:  Yeah, but, you know, it is cheaper. But you and I are both connoisseurs. We like our whiskeys. I like my whiskeys.

Trevor:  Yeah, I tolerate the whiskey. Like the beers.

Kirk:  Okay. You like the Beers. I'm also a little bit of a beer hunter, so I'm going to search out and spend more money for a good craft beer or a good craft whiskey. I would I also like to have the education I get when I go and talk to the people in the liquor store. You know, I'm looking for a hundred percent rye whiskey, which ones you have available.

Trevor:  And the nice thing is he did get into that with him a little bit because we'd heard other places, the one that comes to mind was Alberta, they're talking about making the bud tenders, we're going to call them, not be able to discuss the strains at all.  Not even just the flavors or smells or anything, just literally and an unmarked package across the counter, which from what from Mr. Legary discussion, it sounds like that's not what they're planning in Manitoba.

Kirk:  I'm a little uncomfortable when people separate recreational use of cannabis from medicinal cannabis because, I mean, he made a comment about the medicinal medical health benefits of cannabis. You know, I've been reading an awful lot of stuff on medicinal cannabis. There is research out there and there's some fine research out there that isn't being read. And there are some health benefits to cannabis. Just because I choose to consume it recreational doesn't mean I'm not getting some benefit from it. So, I'm uncomfortable when you say, well, there's no health benefits for cannabis.

Trevor:  Well, I think he hit the nail on the head when he said the devil's going to be in the details. So if you say Strain X is more sedating than Strain Y, is that just like you describing the flavor of a wine or is that a health benefit? So, it's going to be, I think the government's on the right track. I hope they're on the right track.

Kirk:  I hope they follow through with it.

Trevor:  But the devil will be in the details. What will specifically will the bud tender be able to say? You know, I assume it'll be something like they can't say this strain will cure cancer, but if they are allowed to say this strain is more sedating, it seems reasonable.

Kirk:  However, there is some research that suggest some Terpenes and entourage approach has shrunk cancer cells.

Trevor:  Right. But we just we don't want to get into that whole snake oil salesmen.

Kirk:  Yeah, but the budtender should have some insights, you know, and they should be able to share the insight.

Trevor:  Absolutely. And I want them to be able to say this one is more you know, just like if you grabbed a whiskey, you know, this has more alcohol. It will make you more sleepy. It seems to me obvious that this one has more cannabinoid X or more terpene Y. It's more likely to make you sleepy or can make you more alert or I hope the budtenders are allowed to talk about.

Kirk:  I hope so, too. And one thing that I find interesting, this whole this whole criminal marketplace and I think as a nurse, I'm going to, once recreational happens, we can't and we're not allowed to promote cannabis.

Trevor:   No promoting cannabis. We don't do that here?

Kirk:  We can't promote cannabis, but we can educate people. And I believe if I can educate people who want to consume cannabis to say, yeah, OK, you can go buy your you can buy your cannabis from Buddy down the street and sit on his bed and listen to some music and buy your cannabis because you've been doing it for 40 years. Or you can go down the road and spend maybe ten dollars more. But what you're getting is you're getting knowledge and you're getting you're getting research on that bud or whatever you're buying. You know, it's got 20 percent because it's been it's been tested at 20 percent or it's got three percent. Or you want to balance CBD with a high THC. I mean, I've been doing a lot of reading lately on cannabis. And I mean, some people are even advocating that if you are if you have, quote unquote, taken too much THC. Well, if you take a strain that has a little bit of CBD in it, you can balance it off, right?

Trevor:  Yeah, no. And look for a future episode. I think we're going to call it the chemist when we talk to someone who actually, that's her job as she looks at the different amounts of different things and different strains.

Kirk:  Episode eight. I think.

Trevor:  It could be episode 8, we're still working on that. Yeah, no, but this is a really good episode. The government and law stuff usually bores me. But again, we found someone who was engaging and I think you told us all the things he could. And when it was something beyond his scope, he just said so.

Kirk:  So who are we?

Trevor:  Reefer Medness - The Podcasts.

Kirk:  And you find us on.

Trevor:  Reefermed.ca and I think all those social media. Is @Reefermedness.

Kirk:  Yes, yes.  Instagram, Twitter there.

Trevor:  The Twitter there. The Facebook.

Kirk:  Yeah. So let's listen to Mr. Legary. He's the government spokesman on cannabis. He's going to talk to us about how the government is going to roll out cannabis in Manitoba.

Trevor:   This is a great interview. You're going to love it. 

Michael:  Yes, my name is Michael Legary. And I'm a technical analyst for the Priority and Planning Secretariat. What that actually means is I report to the principal secretary and the cabinet, the premier, regarding cannabis and economic strategy overall. So help coordinate government from the from cabinet into the implementation that not just core government are crown organizations will implement.

Kirk:  So is it fair to call you the voice of government? Now, why I say that is that when we got a hold of you through the premier's office and they gave us your name, so are you then therefore representing the voice of the government today?

Michael:  Yes. Again, I'm not a politician. I'm a civil servant. So again, I can I can basically represent, you know, what current state of the cannabis regime is in Manitoba.

Kirk:  Perfect. Well, let's start there. Can you explain to me a quick outline of how Manitoba is approaching the new Federal Act.

Michael:  Yes, from a federal government perspective, you know, essentially, we've you know, it's been it's being legislatively, quote, pushed down to the province where we as a province have to be ready for recreational legalized cannabis here this summer. From a timeline perspective, they actually haven't given us a good exact date. It's somewhere between early July and perhaps late October. So, it's quite a window we're working with. But really, it's been last year and a half has been all about preparing for that. So legislatively preparing laws on the on the justice, the policing and the health care side, as well as the retail side, you know, how will we create a retail cannabis regime that will allow Manitobans to purchase products wherever they feel like? So, you so the core concept of that, it's the provincial government is taking a an open economy approach where the long term desire is for any commercial retailer to be able to apply for a license and as long as they meet the requirements by the Liquor, Gaming, and Cannabis Authority (LGCA), as long as they meet the regulations, they will be able to sell retail cannabis in their location. In the interim right now, because we don't have the final legislation approved by the feds. There's thousands of unknowns in the in the market. The provincial department called Growth, Enterprise and Trade has essentially limited the market artificially by applying retailers can apply through an RFP process, right now. We have four organizations that were awarded the first retail licenses and get the regime up and running. But between where we are today and long term, the intent is to build an open market where anyone can  register and get licensed to sell cannabis in Manitoba.

Kirk:  Right. That was I was actually Googling you and found some presentations you did. And you sort of started on a couple of my questions, with regards we have four companies that you've the government has decided to start the process with. And that's fantastic.  I guess, these companies will be allowed to sell retail cannabis, whether some of them are licensed producers, right. Delta9 is a licensed producer. So they're going to open up the shop where they'll sell it retail.

Michael:  So the way, you know, probably to describe a couple of different components of how things work is, you know, currently Growth, Enterprise and Trade is the government department who determines what the market can what the market requires from a goal perspective. What the market can bear is another word for it. But the reason for having retailers is attempting to break the black market. That's a major objective of what we want to do and making cannabis safe, legal cannabis accessible to Manitobans. The objective really over the next three years is within a 30-minute drive, we would like to have 90 percent of Manitobans have access. So, Growth, Enterprise and Trade then works with the Liquor Gaming Cannabis Authority LGCC and they regulate the industry; they license retailers that will be allowed to sell cannabis. We have liquor and lotteries MBLL who have, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, who actually purchases supply from licensed producers in Canada, and then we'll supply that from a purchasing request from the retailers.  The retailers right now are... They're not contractors. They actually are standalone businesses that have been licensed to purchase cannabis through Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries.

Kirk:  OK, and so these will be the four businesses sort of get the leg up and I know that one point you said additional retailers and locations will be available within the next twelve months. So these four companies get a twelve months sort of running start at the cannabis business in Manitoba.

Michael:  Yeah, I guess you could look at that way. I think it's an unfair assessment myself, where right now there's nothing's known. So, a running start is really not an accurate statement. What they are though, is they are four businesses who have been willing to take on a lot of unknowns. There's a lot of risk. For example, they have, you know, even as of today, they don't understand exactly where their stores can go, how municipalities are going to zone or create business licenses for them. But inevitably, to to address your comment, yeah, they will be the first four retailers available to sell. So there is definitely an advantage that they receive by getting the they are awarded the RFP that we had.

Kirk:  Yeah. And I thank you for recognizing that, I think. I said I set up this interview by saying I was going to look at the Determinants of Health and the there's a bunch of pillars I'm looking at employment, healthy behaviors, and I'm also looking at education in this conversation I'm having with you. And when you look at employment and local employment, one of our one of our business owners here was expressing some concern. She has her paraphernalia shop. She's been catering to the medicinal user. So there is a business there. She's very concerned about how her business will be affected by these four businesses that could literally come into Dauphin and take her clients away. So how how is how is this going to protect small businesses? You know, if you're going to give them 12 months so that we know the unknowns by 12 months, how is this small business going to survive?

Michael:  So specifically what you're talking about is there's a medicinal licensed organization or it is selling accessories.

Kirk:  Yeah, she's selling accessories. She's selling pipes and accessories and knowledge to medicinal users. And she has a small business and she's built the business pretty much from scratch. And, you know, she's she followed the I mean, I'm not trying to make this one example. I'm just putting it out to small businesses around the provinces that have done this. And they have they not been betrayed by this in a sense, in the sense that they've set up businesses and now there's a potential for these, I guess, businesses, some of these businesses of Ontario and international businesses are coming in and taking the risk, certainly. But are they not taking some business away from existing businesses?

Michael:  No, again, because those existing businesses don't sell retail cannabis, right?

Kirk:  But they're going to sell paraphernalia. They're going to sell the pipes the bongs. They're going to sell the rolling papers. They're going to sell the accessories. If I go into a retail shop, I'm going to buy a pipe next to the cannabis I choose.

Michael:  Yeah. Again, it's not the same level. I don't think so. A good example. You know, listening to your past podcast, again, the objective to address this is going open market and then allowing a more competitive market to grow.  So, you know, what's clear right now is the point of restricting it to a limited number of retailers was to get through the unknowns. It's not the intent to keep it that way if the intent is to go open market where that that business owner will be able to apply for a license through LCGA and get going. So it's one step in the process.

Kirk:  That's an interesting way to look at it, too. Let's look at let's look at the education side. Have we as a government, I mean, because I vote, I consider myself we as the government has the government learned anything from the prohibition of alcohol and how that was laid out in the trials and tribulations we've had with alcohol consumption over the last 60, 70 years? And also, the fact that, you know, Canada has been the longest country in the world it has been medicinally legal. So as medicinal cannabis is is available to all Canadians and we're the first country to do that. Have we learned anything. As a government have we learned anything about those two systems with our roll out, with cannabis?

Michael:  There's been a lot of research in example here in Manitoba, a lot of background research was done as we're building out the recreational models, the different ways we could have sold it through the Crown Corporation directly, like other provinces are going open market like we've done. We went back to a lot of the Manitoba Archives and actually looked at, you know, how did we handle Prohibition? And the short answer is, you know, we handled it in mediocre fashion, just like every other province did back then. And it took us about fifteen years to get OK at it. So, a favorite example for myself of what happened back then versus now around, say, safety and the education associated with safety is there were really no sobriety tests that were effective immediately post prohibition. We had a number of social health and other issues post prohibition and there was a black market. And that black market did not disappear within the first 12 months, even 24 or 48 months. And there was a struggle to to achieve those goals that the government really wanted to get through long term. So we've looked a lot of that and many provinces have the federal government has, and a lot of the objective right now is learning from those lessons to shorten the time period to get OK at managing this subject. So, it's tough to say. Again, I'm on the retail side. That's my focus. So I speak with a lot of positivity about the regime coming. But there's a lot of folks out there who see the negatives of it, the health, the safety, the aspects that are negative around legalizing the substance for recreational purposes, and so the short answer is the lessons have been learned, have been used to help compress the amount of time we think it's going to take to respond to these issues and get going. And then from an education perspective, the breadth of considerations that we're making as government across all departments and all levels of government, federal, provincial and even working with municipalities, we are much more aware about the impacts this type of legalization can have. And I like to say we're well prepared, but if nothing else, we are well prepared to respond to the unknowns as they come up. We are we're looking for issues. We have teams ready to respond and we want to work with constituents to get through this and in an effective and useful manner.

Kirk:  I'm glad to hear that. That's positive. I'm actually quite when you compare Manitoba with some of the other provinces, I think we approach this right. I like the idea that we're having a private business to sell instead of government being involved. When I look at private business, are we going to limit. I guess the question is the education of what we're calling the bud tender. Are there going to be any limitations to the bud tender? When I go into the dispensary and I choose my strain will the Bud tenders be able to talk about that strain, are we going to have educated bud tenders or we're going to have people that are just going to pass me my grams and say goodbye?

Michael:  Yeah. So that's a really relevant component of what we're dealing with. What we from a provincial government perspective, what mandate was given to the civil servants working on it was to look for an address, those type of issues.  We don't want an uneducated head shop. And, you know, the average citizen, when we talk about legalized cannabis, especially in Manitoba, where we have our average age, is not is not in the 20s. It's in the higher 40s. People don't want a uneducated, poorly lit, poorly supplied stocked retail location. They want an experience that is similar to or better than what they expect from their liquor experience today. So that means, budtenders that have been trained from a general safety, addictions, those types of issues. But more specifically on the product, they understand the uses of the product from a recreational perspective. They can describe strain's. The differences, it can even, with legalization, we're not just talking about, bud. There's oils and other components. And people obviously will be engaging. We can't sell edibles within the regime, but people will be making edibles and other components at home, also educating people about what's safe, what's appropriate, what's legal. So we're trying to provide a full experience and an educated experience to the consumer.

Kirk:  That's great to hear because I've in our research, we've heard it in some jurisdictions they're going to limit what Budtenders can say about the strains. And I think I would like to think that we're educated enough to know that there has been some research and I'm not going to debate the research here today, but there is some research that certain strains do have different abilities if used appropriately. So our bud tenders in Manitoba, whatever, the sick will be able to guide people that way.

Michael:  Yeah, again, one specific thing it didn't exactly describe, but is a core concern for folks is what are the health benefits of recreational cannabis? And that's something that the bud tenders will be really, in the regulatory items through Liquor, Gaming, Cannabis will describe it. But, you know, the health claims regarding it will be fairly minimal if at all, simply because there's not a lot of defended evidence for recreational cannabis and those users. So health benefits, you know, in education around that, there'll be limitations on exactly what they can say, like what claims they can make from a health perspective, regarding what they can say from a recreational perspective. There's a lot of, you know, the devil's in the details regarding that. But the way I look at it is, you know, if I'm looking for a scotch versus a whiskey versus a wine, you know, different evening's events, purposes, different experiences, what they will be able to describe about those products will be similar to what you see in the liquor regime right now.

Kirk:  OK, so do you foresee a craft, a craft industry with cannabis like I know, for example, right now where the government is doing this in a methodical way, but in two or three years or five years, do you foresee the ability of a small mom and pop shop growing, growing the specialty cannabis that they can then sell and talk about.  Do you foresee that happening sort of like similar to craft beer, the craft whiskey industry that's happening now.

Michael:  Absolutely. So from a provincial government perspective, really, the not just legalizing it, from a healthy and safety perspective is a core concern, but how do we make this a Manitoba market? So the concept of the open market, the way the legislation has been written and had been defined to date, is really allowing the definition of small growers again from, again, federally licensed.  But how do we get access to boutique products through Liquor and Lotteries? How could boutique retailers start up in the future? And how could we minimize the footprint, the financial costs and the rigmarole they'll have to get through of government to start a business? So, you know, we've designed a lot of the regime to allow for not just the purchasing and selection of craft growth, but also craft retail. So unfortunately, just based on federal government, we are we're not going to be an Amsterdam. But what we want to see is a really healthy local economy, growing, selling, consuming, and exporting cannabis in a responsible way.

Kirk:  Okay, that's good. That's good to hear. Is there going to be like a Serving Safe program like right now as a volunteer, I have to, at the local art center here, I serve alcohol. I have to have the Serving Safe programs, whether it be a cannabis Serving Safe program the government will have.

Michael:  So I can't address the serving state program specifically. But already MPI, I'm on the vehicle side is talking about, you know, no limit of cannabis consumption operating a vehicle safe. We're going to have health care messages coming out. The retailers will have safety and responsibility messages that are produced on sales. When you get your product, you'll get some additional safety messages. The point about the how much is safe to consume or it's slightly different where, you know, in a liquor establishment where you can actually go to the bar and buy a drink, there's training that has to happen to make sure that that the bartender's not over serving and that serving appropriately and watches out for certain signs. We currently don't have any location or licensing structure where you'll be able to purchase, say, a joint and smoke it on the spot. So that particular kind of message will be buried in some of the other elements because we don't have that structure. But social responsibility and awareness materials are going to be very prevalent through, a number of the different crown services, core government and the retail partners.

Kirk:  OK, and that's the other thing. There will be pretty much the only place you can consume cannabis in Manitoba will be your backyard or your home. I mean, when you read between the lines, so do you foresee, do you foresee lounges where people will be able to set up proper ventilation systems and have a cigar club or a cannabis club?

Michael:  Right now, from a legal structure perspective, what we have to work with federally and provincially, there's not a lot of room for that right now. I think it's an issue that's definitely going to have to be discussed more because, like you mentioned, cigars and a tobacconist between federal and provincial legislation, a tobacconist can actually have a tobacconist's room where you can go into the into the humidor to purchase a cigar for sampling. And you can sample that with the right HVAC equipment on site. Now, in the city of Winnipeg, when we look at the smoking bylaws that have been updated here as of April. You know, the prevalence of hookah lounges and other things that have occurred over the last two years that's really being pushed by the wayside. It's illegal to, you know, smoke indoors in a commercial premise in Winnipeg now.

Kirk:  So that has to that has to do with the secondhand smoke issue, you know. So I'm wondering if I look at a vape, for example, if I decide to vape my cannabis, there's no secondhand smoke from a vape. So, could I not have a vape shop?

Michael:  Unfortunately, based on the way the rules are written in the province and in the city of Winnipeg bylaw, no. Right now, you can't. So, it's, from a subject area, I think that, you know, the current structure doesn't allow for it. I think that consumers and consumer patterns are going to keep this subject open for some time because what we've seen in other regimes, we just don't know the impacts of that yet. So, there's monitoring to be had, you know, the point of safe consumption. But we were already hearing from consumers about what where can I do that? How can I do that? And the province is working to address what other options there are that set the regime we have.

Kirk:  Okay, fair enough. We're moving into sort of the healthy behaviors part of the pillar. So when I look at healthy behaviors, the government of Manitoba has said that it will be 19 years old to consume cannabis in this province. How did you come up with that number 19? Where did that come from?

Michael:  Again, it's the context behind that is really a Minister question, but you know, really some of the core elements provided, you know, for context are: one of the a key concern is keeping out of the hands of youth. And there's no perfect answer. But, you know, one context I've learned from this is that, you know, there are high school students who are 18 and can purchase alcohol legally and you can have that alcohol in their car, in their locker, even under there's zero tolerance rules that have been created for that. And that's not a perfect system right now for alcohol, you know, by moving the age to 19. It is, again, not the final answer, but it helps provide a little bit more definition for youth, for high schools. There should be zero tolerance for recreational cannabis whatsoever and make that a little clearer. And the other the other context to it is, is our neighboring provinces are both 19. So trying to keep some harmony there as well.

Kirk:  Our neighboring provinces are 19 for alcohol. I just I'm not I'm not saying 19 is a bad age. I'm just saying there's a paradox. I'm wondering if the youth advocate raised the issue Ms. Penrose she raised the issue that you've got this sort of what is it, this purgatory between the 18 and 19-year-old that can, you know, can be with his buddies having a beer. They step outside and have a joint. He can't. And if the 19-year-olds give him the reefer, then you're setting the 19-year-olds up for, you know, fines. So, I'm just wondering, I know you would have taken some political heat for this, but if we bump alcohol to 19 and you had cannabis and alcohol at 19, would not have been a more logical decision.

Michael:  Again, the conversation is not that particular conversation is not a conversation, I had a say and no, I'll take it if that's a political component. So really, the areas that we work, we work with it. Sure. You know, they're fair comments. The challenge of going back to Prohibition comment I made earlier is, you know, there's going to be a lot of monitoring to make sure we get it right. You know, the decisions made today and in the past year, they're taking educated best guesses to get where we need to be. But, you know, we're not even day one into the rest of our lives about how to deal with this safely and effectively.

Kirk:  So I if I didn't ask the question, I would have been slapped. I had to ask.  The other question I have to ask another behavior. Manitoba has dictated we're not going to be able to grow our own. What's the rationale behind.

Michael:   Same context as the last question? Again, is a Minister level decision to decide on how to approach that? A lot of feedback went into that. So the key element I think, that we're seeing on the implementation side is, you know, working with law enforcement, a lot of our black market comes from abuse of the federal regime as it sits right now on the medicinal side. Designated grower licenses are abused greatly. We have a lot of there's a lot of evidence RCMP, Winnipeg police have on that in Manitoba. You know, one of the effects of being able to limit the recreational grow at home is to clearly help clearly define what what is legal under the medicinal use versus not who's abusing that. No perfect answer there. But that was the decision made.  And again, we'll we're working with it.

Kirk:  No, and it's not my job to debate it with you. I just it's curious that we do that in this province when and I guess my follow up question to that question would have been, did we not have we not learned anything from the medicinal growers? I know that the real estate people, you know, brokers are all concerned about growopp, and they are saying that people that grow cannabis in their house limit their home retail value and all that. And I'm just wondering if we learned anything from people who are growing differently.

Michael:  Well, there's a lot of yeah, there's actually a lot of problems. So one I mentioned is the abuse of the Federal regime right now. There's a lot of it. And people have different justifications for why they're abusing that system. But a more realistic one, I'm not sure if you grow cannabis yourself, but if you've seen it, it's you know, it's quite the process. You know, growing one or two plants versus 20 plants is a very different operation.

[00:33:48] Very much so, yes.

Michael:  From a from a water from an air quality perspective, and the risks speaking at a municipal level, when you have, say, you know, 12 plants in your house and you got, know, lighting up, etc., you know, the if that's not properly ventilated.

Kirk:  The federal government, the federal government's allowing us to grow four. So if we stick to four plants, the Manitoba government is saying, well, no Kirk you can't grow your four. And I'm thinking, well gee whiz, if I was to grow my four how's that from a black-market perspective, I'm growing my four. I can keep Strain's alive. You know, I can I mean, I'm not buying from the black market because I'm following legislation and growing my own. I'm just I just find it curious that Manitoba said no,.

Michael:  No, absolutely. I think maybe the only other context I can add without speaking on behalf of folks that Ministers and other folks I should not; is again, you know, a lot of what we're working with is. It's not. Yes, but it's not No long term. It is one context where if we take a lesson from Colorado and Washington and European cities is we can't, it's easier to keep the genie in the bottle short term, learn from it and adjust and open up. And so I think, you know, really one other piece of context we said here is, you know, as we learn more about the regime, that's you know, that's a discussion point to have in the future. But if we allowed it off the hop, you know, those health safety risks, the the influence and the impact on the black market, there are a number of unknowns that that led to that decision.

Kirk:  OK, fair enough. And I guess a couple more questions. I was looking at the whole edible issue. Edibles aren't mentioned anywhere. Do you foresee business opportunities, bakers, cookie makers, people who will eventually be able to make and sell edibles?

Michael:  So, yeah, right now we don't have guidance at a provincial level from the federal government about when the edible regime and the discussions regarding that will truly occur, you know, they set expectation that sometime 12 months post legalization, that would be that would be a discussion and it would move into legalization. But with a long-term hat on, from a Manitoba economic development perspective, we're definitely looking forward to enabling that type of element of the regime, because, again, in the medicinal market right now, we know many consumers, majority don't smoke. They consume it in some other manner. Edibles are core component of that. And from the from you know, we're an agricultural based province from our food sciences labs. And the linkages to universities are different craft producers of baked goods to our large industries. It's definitely something that we want to enable from a provincial perspective to grow the economy again and be a part of it in a safe, responsible way.

Kirk:  OK, I have a couple more questions. One. One is a statement that I found in one of your presentations. One of the goals is to eliminate the black market within two years. You figure you figure that 50 percent of the black-market share will be gone in two years. I find that low balling. What do you think the barriers will be with legalization, eliminating black market or I guess black market, the criminal market.

Michael:  The criminal market. I think, you know, the reality is that there's a lot of opinions on on how achievable that is. And right now, when it comes to black market, that's really when the federal goal was to an argument that they made is this will help reduce black market. The research from post prohibition in the early days is that that black market does not go away very quickly. So, we need to have a very aggressive approach on addressing it. And so really, we set that goal to make sure that where we have everyone pushing to that as a goal. And from a realist perspective, you know, the black market specifically, there's a difference from a addressing the issue, I won't say from a criminal perspective, but addressing the issue of organized crime. It will change. They will go into other markets, other drugs to sell, and we'll have new social health responsibility issues out of it. And then the other kind of criminal behavior are people who are growing 12, 20, 100 plants at home. And I would compare them very much to the satellite card folks of the early 2000s, late 1990s, where it was it was an illegal act and they had essentially an illegal small business. They were able to justify to themselves and their customers to justify themselves that they really weren't hurting anyone. But the reality is that black market, we can't trust the quality of the product. The safety of the product. It's not giving the taxation the help of the social and safety programs. Educating that market, like we had to do a post prohibition.  Learning, like look, let's build this regime together. So, we're all profiting and from a citizen perspective, both monetary, but getting the social programs you want, getting the money back into infrastructure, the things we need, that this problem of breaking the black market is very complex. So we're, you know, set a big goal. Look at that breadth of problems and really get the average person involved in understanding, that buying from the person you've been buying. If you've been buying recreational in the past 10 years, you might want to really look at changing that behavior if you want us to move forward.

Kirk:  Yeah, we discussed that in Episode One in regards to how the federal government, I mean, I think they're doing a good thing. I think this legalization of cannabis is a long time coming. And I think from the perspective of, you know, harm reduction, legalizing it allows us now to control it and study it. But I'm also wondering if breaking the black market is a price point. So, I mean, we're talking about price points and taxes. One of the biggest issues a lot of the people are complaining about is government will tax this stuff so badly that it might just allow the criminal market to maintain itself. So what is the plan with taxes? I know that there's been some discussion on municipalities sharing the taxes and all that. So what has the government viewing taxing cannabis?

Michael:  Well, right now, a lot of the conversation still at the federal level. So there's a lot of unknowns. But, you know, the part of the question I can address is, you know, a lot of the provincial structure and working with the municipalities in Manitoba, you know, this is not a money-making thing. You know, in some evidence of that is next year's provincial budget. There is no allocated cannabis revenues. You know, really, it's about breaking the black market. Keep that cost as minimum of possible, but again, what's interesting is, again, by having private retailers that are in business to make money, there are certain margins that they want to see. Licensed producers in Canada are businesses that want to make money, they want to see.

Kirk:  Big Businesses.

Michael:  Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And businesses and it's the funny, I shouldn't say funny part, but the relevant part of it is, well, be it from the licensed producer, private, and retailer private, they have to pay real salaries, they have to pay income tax and all these things black-market, you know, they might have people who are not being paid minimum wage or in a situation where they're not being paid anything and being a gang member or being somebody that's held against their will. There's a bunch of issues about we can't be competitive with the black market in the same way. So it's a lot of it's about reducing and minimizing tax, making sure it's appropriate and making sure that we educate people on the transparency, the safety, the selection, the quality of the product we have and just the close on that thought, a lot of folks, when to Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries was doing consultations about what do consumers perceive their current recreational purchased cannabis, what does it look like? And many folks said, oh well, I feel my thing I'm purchasing off the street is 20 percent THC. It's this strain it's that Strain.  And oddly enough, what a lot of the testing occurred they were off what they thought they had and what they really have is two different things. Hopefully, with a legal market, those recreational users who are not, you know, not educated like many medicinal users are, they'll understand what they've been getting on the street is not of the quality or the value or the safety that they really can expect out of a legal market.

Kirk:  Yeah, I fully agree with that. That's a powerful statement. I have one more question. It's very timely. And it's and I'm not sure if you are it's fair to ask you, but I mean, what is it, Monday or Tuesday? We hear now that civil servants in Manitoba will not be allowed to consume cannabis at staff parties. They're allowed to have unopened bottles of alcohol. If they're, you know, transporting no cannabis. Where does that come from? What is that all about?

Michael:  Yes, is a part of ongoing discussions. I think, again, it goes back to the concept of air on the side of caution. And as we learn more as we are our legal, revisit those subjects in the future. So I think it really is just and especially I've witnessed firsthand in Manitoba working, you know, there's a lot of social norms that will take time to change. And it's really a first very cautious step on moving forward.

Kirk:  And fair enough. This has been a very nice discussion. Is there anything that I haven't asked you that you expected I would?

Michael:  One key question I get from a lot of folks when I talk to them is online sales that what does that mean in Manitoba? And so, again, back to your price point and addressing black market. Every retailer currently and any retailer through that will get licensed by LGC in the future will have the ability to sell online within Manitoba. So if you're in the province of Manitoba, you can be say from Fargo and be in Manitoba and purchase cannabis, if it's delivered in Manitoba or if you're a Manitoban, you can have it purchased here, the retailer can only sell and deliver cannabis in Manitoba. So, it's the Inter-trade provincial issue, they won't that will have them, I assume, but not from the legal markets restricted. But if you're anywhere in Manitoba, you will have the ability to purchase online from a licensed retailer and get product within, you know, your three to five days, depending on how far off the beaten trail you are up north or in some of the Interlake region.

Kirk:  So just to clarify, if I if I'm in Dauphin, there's a strain that I like out of Vancouver, can I ordered from Vancouver and have it delivered in Manitoba?

Michael:  No, no, no, it's not through the recreational regime, but what you will be able to do is contact one of the retailers and say, I like this strain, can you bring it in?  So there will be the opportunity for because the supply supplies through Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, you can go to your retailer and ask them for a product you like and want can be brought in just like alcohol. You know, if you have a particular wine or scotch you like Liquor and Lotteries can order that and bring it in. The same type of ability will occur in the licensed regime.

Kirk:  OK, that's fair. So they can go to another licensed producer from any other province and bring it into Manitoba, even though they're not a Manitoba licensed producer.

Michael:  Licensed producers are licensed federally. Right and Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries will fulfill a request, any retailer who wants a license produced strain that they can facilitate the purchase of that and delivery to the retailer.

Kirk:  Will I be able to go to Yorktown and cross the border with it with a Strain.  Like if Yorkton Saskatchewan has a strain and outlet, and I like it and I'm visiting, can I bring a couple of grams back with me across the border.

Michael:  Yeah. So you can bring up to for personal consumption up to 30 grams. So if you, if you drive there and you find something you like and you want to bring that across the border, you can bring your personal allotment back with you.

Kirk:  Perfect. Well, that's good. All right. Thank you very much, sir. I appreciate talking to you.

Michael:  Perfect.

Kirk:  OK. Hey, that was fun.

Trevor:  No, no. Mr. Legary was excellent.

Kirk:  We talked a little bit off air a little bit. And we talked about how, you know, you had mentioned before about the Ministers make some decisions that he may or may not agree with, but he's got to.

Trevor:  Anything the ministers say sort of overrides what he said. So he is a very good civil servant. So, we're just we promised we'd make that clear that if a minister says something that he didn't say, the minister's word trumps it.

Kirk:  Yes, of course it comes. And we voted the minister in. Right,.

Trevor:  Exactly.

Kirk:  Exactly. So we're going to listen to the Swifties.

Trevor:  What can you tell me about the song we're going to listen to there Kirk?

Kirk:  "Miss those days.'  This is a song about Dauphin. It's about how about Sean? Sean is the songwriter of the Swifties and he's a local boy. He went off and made some great music in other provinces and came back and he's raising his children in Dauphin. And this is a song that he speaks to about the old days and Dauphin.

Trevor:  That wraps up Episode Seven. Kirk, who are we?

Kirk:  Reefer Medness - The Podcast.

Trevor:  Come on back, guys. That was great to see you again.


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