A Closer Look at Manitoba’s Dispensary Announcement


The entrepreneurial community in Manitoba is invigorated following Tuesday’s announcements by Premier Brian Pallister and Minister of Growth, Enterprise, and Trade, Blaine Pedersen to allow for a private sector in the distribution and sale of marijuana.

One of the main highlights of this inclusive model involves privately owned and operated dispensaries that would source their supply from the province’s Liquor and Lotteries Corporation. This publicly-welcomed prototype is vastly different from the retail scenarios announced by Ontario and New Brunswick, which decided a complete government monopoly is the best option for its citizens.

“This is the best of both worlds,” said Minister Pedersen in an interview with Marijuana.com. “We will use our liquor and gaming authority to license the retail outfits and do the regulatory, we’ll use [them] to do the purchasing and to control the flow of product going through, but then we turn the retail over to the private sector. We have a very strong private sector here in Manitoba and we will continue to build it.”

Pedersen has a significant amount of confidence in the private retail model and clearly believes this scenario is best for Manitobans. “[Private sector businesses]  do a much better job of retail than government ever could,” he said.

Pedersen added that Manitoba is looking to foster development in the marijuana cultivation industry as well. “The economic opportunities are here, we just need to make sure we foster them to build up our production capacity,” he said. “We think the private retail sector working together with the production sector [that] the two will build together.”

Many of the fine details for regulation are still being sorted by the province, including the minimum age limit for purchasing cannabis. The trade minister is not shy about sharing his concerns regarding the speed at which the process is happening, due to the federal government’s timeline.

“We have concerns with this arbitrary date [of July 2018]. The federal government set the date, the provinces are doing all the heavy lifting on this,” he said. “We’ve got a number of questions that the federal government needs to answer for us, but the date has been set and we have to work with it.”

Pedersen is reluctant to criticize the government’s monopoly-style models selected by his colleagues in Ontario and New Brunswick but clearly feels the hybrid option chosen by Manitoba is the correct path forward.

“I won’t comment on Ontario or New Brunswick, and apparently Quebec looks like they are going the same way,” he said. “We think our model is better, and we will continue to work on our model to make sure that we can get our market up and going. We like the open and competitive market, that’s why we’re going this way.”

Photo courtesy of Allie Beckett

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Jon Hiltz was a journalist for Marijuana.com for two years and is now director of content for INDIVA, a licensed cannabis producer in Ontario Canada.

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