Pallister hints pot plan is 'best of both worlds'

Cannabis sales in Manitoba will involve the public and private sector, Brian Pallister said on Monday afternoon after question period.

Premier says province will have both public, private participation in cannabis sales

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister hinted at the province's pot plans which will start rolling out on Tuesday. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Cannabis sales in Manitoba will involve the public and private sector, Brian Pallister said on Monday afternoon. 

"We have a plan that we think offers the best of both worlds," he said after question period. 

"It's one that will protect Manitobans and will offer, I think, more than adequate service and supply and options to Manitoba consumers of the product."

On Tuesday, the Progressive Conservatives will announce details of the province's plans to prepare for upcoming federal legislation to legalize the drug, which is expected to be passed by July 2018. They are expected to outline the province's request for proposals for the pot plan moving forward. 

The marijuana message from the government will not include the age when people can buy cannabis.

While not giving details on the results of a provincial expression of interest testing the market, which closed in September, Pallister said there was "great interest from Manitoba companies and companies across Canada."

The premier has been pressured to keep pot in the public sector, with the argument that it is safer and better controlled, but Pallister said the private sector has a proven reputation for things like access, selection and customer service. 

"You want to have that kind of hybrid option I think," he said. 

Pallister once again criticized the federal deadline, but said the province had to move ahead thoughtfully to develop a plan that will "protect Manitobans and also help us make sure that we are getting the gangs out of this business as fast as we can."

Last week, Pallister asked every member of his cabinet to come forward to the conflict of interest commissioner if they're investing in marijuana. He said he wanted to make sure no ministers or senior staff were involved in decision making if they had personal links but, on Monday, he couldn't say if anyone had disclosed or recused themselves from the pot plans. 

NDP Leader Wab Kinew said his concern was whether the PCs' plan would ensure cannabis stays out of the hands of kids and young people.

"If there is going to be private distribution that may have an impact on young people's access to cannabis," he said. 

"We are going to have to make sure that there is very high standards in terms of everyone who plays a role in selling cannabis to the public should be very well trained."