Canada could use the beer industry as a model if it ever decides to legalize and tax marijuana, according to the founder of the nation’s third-largest brewer.
John Sleeman of Sleeman Breweries Ltd. said rules imposed after Prohibition transformed a crime-ridden industry into one that pays high taxes, helps battle social problems such as drunk driving and accounts for almost 1 percentage point of gross domestic product. While not advocating the move, he said in an interview in the Bloomberg News Ottawa bureau that the model could be applied to pot.
“It’s not unlike Prohibition where you had people making money and the government finally said: ‘Hey wait a minute, we have to clean this up,’” said Sleeman, the head of a national beer lobby group whose family smuggled alcohol into the U.S. when it was banned in the 1920s and 1930s. “I can see some time down the road the Canadian government will use parts of how we’re regulated as a way to base the regulation for the production and sale of marijuana.”
Canadians may be warming to the idea of legal weed. Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in August he would consider a proposal to allow police to write a fine for possession rather than press charges. Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau said he used the drug while a parliamentarian. The federal government is licensing companies to grow and distribute medical pot.
Provincial bodies, such as the Liquor Control Board of Ontario with its network of government-owned stores, could also guide any marijuana framework, Sleeman said.
The Sleeman family began brewing beer in Guelph, Ontario in 1851. Sleeman revived the company in 1988 after it was shut down for 50 years after facing Prohibition-era smuggling and tax evasion charges. The brewer, which counts Al Capone as a former customer, uses its colorful history in advertisements.
– Read the entire article at Bloomberg.