On Thursday, a day after the Alberta government unveiled its cannabis framework for when new laws legalizing recreational marijuana come into effect, a group of 12 medical marijuana producers has come forward with a plan that they say will take some of the pressure off the province.
“We’ve got a diverse, regulated supply of cannabis available to Canadians on July 1 and most importantly, we’re not asking the government for anything,” said Darren Karasiuk, co-chair of the Canadian Cannabis Co-op.
Karasiuk said the group’s 12 co-op members have “robust” e-commerce platforms already in place and are operating in a highly regulated medical marijuana market.
LISTEN: Medical marijuana producers form cannabis co-operative
“The medical cannabis world has gone through tremendous growth in the last three or four years,” he said. “And one of the byproducts of that is that you’ve got people from all licensed producers, who understand what it’s like to get a business up and running properly, in a highly regulated environment, and to do so quickly.”
On Wednesday, the province said it hadn’t decided whether to sell cannabis through government-run stores or private operators.
But Karasiuk suggested the government should lean on the expertise of medical marijuana producers.
He said the members created a cannabis co-op because they believe an e-commerce platform is necessary to ensure all Albertans have access to safe marijuana and to keep them from turning to black market dealers.
WATCH: Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley talks to Danielle Smith about Alberta’s cannabis framework
“If we are going to help achieve these public policy goals of eradicating the black market – goals that we 100 per cent support – then we need to ensure people in all corners of the province have access to safe, regulated cannabis and so the e-commerce part to us seems very, very natural,” Karasiuk said.
“Coming together as a group [and] providing a rich diversity of product … is only going to further the odds of that happening.”
Karasiuk said the cooperative also has plans to build brick and mortar storefronts.
News Talk 770 contacted the Alberta government but did not immediately receive a response.
© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.