Good idea or bad?
Prior to the Ford Conservative landslide victory in this past provincial election, the Liberal party and the government of the day had setup and were ready to roll out a plan that would see cannabis sold in the LCBO throughout Ontario. The Liberals were so far into this process that the LCBO had designated 30 stores throughout the province to roll out the first phase of selling weed at the LCBO. Their thought process was that you would be able to pick up your booze and pot at the same location.
The Liberal machinery and its consultants were so excited and ready to roll out this plan… it had the total backing of the unions and its membership, but there was also political currency backing this roll out. Everyone involved was in favour of this move and it had a lot of merit on why this was the right thing to do. The President of the LCBO at the time and still there was the biggest proponent of this move. George Sleas, President and CEO, and a very smart and politically savvy individual had done a ton of work on this file and had strategically positioned the LCBO to implement the roll out, the financial gains in the first three years were out of this world for adding addition revenue for the province of Ontario.
The projected annual revenue for the province of Ontario under the Liberal plan to sell alcohol and cannabis under one roof were staggering. The only issue that l personally had with the Liberal plan, was that external consultants were charging obscured amounts of money and promising individuals and corporations that they would obtain a license for them. Under the Liberals the only area that was created with these so-called expert consultants and their ability to provide licensing for LP’s and other forms of cannabis production was an area that had much dishonesty, and many folks were scammed out of large fees for something that was never delivered. I personally know of several folks who were scammed out of a considerable amount of money and many of these consultants that were tied to the Liberal government provincially and federally are all long gone.
Everything was set to roll out cannabis at the LCBO and what happens next…the Wynne Liberals in Ontario get tossed out of office and in comes the new sheriff, Doug Ford and a majority conservative government. Doug Ford sweeps into power and in many cases like Biden in the United States, Doug Ford cancels many of the Liberal initiatives, and unfortunately kills the Liberal cannabis/LCBO roll out project. This move on behalf of the Ford government was badly thought out and the chief of staff at the time, Dean French was one of the architects of trashing the liberal plan without any due diligence on this file. As it turns out Dean French had his own personal reasons and creating what eventually is the model that we are using today, has turned out to be a disaster.
Dean French, Ford’s first and inexperienced chief of staff, was an individual that thought he was untouchable and knew it all. Well as it turns out, he created a very bad and illicit marketplace that today is thieving with the underground bad guys.
Let me explain, under the Liberal plan while selling cannabis out of the LCBO, the total control of distribution and sales and collecting the tax revenue would have been controlled by the government and at the end of the day we all benefit from the collection of tax that eventually goes into paying for hospital, infrastructure and other projects for you the taxpayer. With the cancellation by the conservative Ford/French change and privatizing the new roll out, this new plan has created chaos and has in my humble opinion… destroyed our neighbourhoods.
With the Ford privatization of cannabis and opening up the system where anyone can apply for a weed license and probably get one, you can be in the weed business over night. Well l am being a bit cute on this, but literally anyone can get a license. This is why you are seeing so many cannabis stores in you neighbourhood. In fact, in many areas, you can see literally five or six stores within blocks of each other. On some streets, like College, Dundas, Queen and King streets you have literally dozens and the fight for that market share is getting tougher and tougher.
Due to this privatization of cannabis by the Ford government and creating this so-called free marketplace…the checks and balances on this system are very weak and have no true safety controls. Because Ford created this system and l truly believe he regrets it, this conservative roll out has driven the cannabis markets so far into the illicit marketplace that the biggest losers are we the taxpayer. Having weak checks and balances and with much competition for the retailers, the illicit market is dominating the marketplace with cheaper prices and cheaper product.
The illicit market today is controlling as much as 80% of the marketplace…yes you heard that correctly, 80% of cannabis/weed is produced and controlled by the underground market and has hurt we the taxpayer, but also those who have invested millions of dollars, that will never see a return on their investment. Many serious investors are finally complaining to the government and are demanding some sort of changes to this conservative cannabis system.
These high-profile investors are seeing their investments dwindle and the illicit market making all the money.
Under the Ford conservative plan, the illicit market has thrived and continues to get bigger and further out of hand. My sources have told me that Doug Ford recently has come under pressure by many of these folks who are also his financial backers, that he has started to listen, and changes may be coming. Doug Ford, knows that changing the Liberal model to his was a mistake, but how does he change it?
My sources tell me that Doug Ford has instructed the LCBO to start to revisit the Liberal plan and the possibilities of going back to that model. Obviously, Ford needs to politically save face with a full 360 change, however Ford may have no choice but to go back to the Liberal LCBO model.
The provincial coffers are losing too much tax revenue and the illicit market is getting too far out of hand. The impact on our local streets is starting to see the effects with retail weed shops springing up everywhere.
Doug Ford, please pivot and go back to the LCBO model…we will all be in a much better position and benefit from weed in more ways than one.
Now, lets light up a joint…