WINNIPEG — At a medicinal marijuana dispensary in downtown Winnipeg there’s already plans for what will happen after legalization.
“Right here in these showcases, just like other Weeds dispensaries, this is where we’d have product, right here in these showcases,” said Mathew Monasterski, co-owner of Weeds, as he motioned towards his shop’s glass shelving and cash area.
The federal government is planning to unveil its marijuana legalization legislation on Thursday. After that it’s still anticipated that it won’t be fully legalized until the summer of 2018.
But after that, the Manitoba government could be looking at another revenue stream as they try to whittle away a projected $840 million deficit.
In Colorado, a state that legalized marijuana four years ago, the industry was worth $1.3 billion last year, bringing in $200 million in tax revenue.
“Taking it from that underground economy to something that is going to be taxed so that it can be used for additional revenue for government that go into education, infrastructure, things that are important to Manitobans, it’s good from that perspective,” said Chuck Davidson, president of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce.
The private sector is also looking at the potential profits associated with legalization.
But Monasterski said the province should start consulting with businesses like his immediately so that the industry will be ready for whenever the federal government officially changes the legislation.
“This province has the potential to be steps ahead of every other province, electricity, wages, real estate, we’re ready to go,” he said.
However, Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries isn’t saying whether the sale and distribution of legalized pot will fall to the private sector, or be controlled by the province, much like alcohol.