Recreational marijuana should be sold in B.C. liquor stores: BCGEU

Non-medical marijuana should be sold in both public B.C. Liquor Stores and private Liquor Retail Stores say the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) and the B.C. Private Liquor Store Association (BCPLSA).

The two groups partnered today to announce this idea, which they say will enable a safe, responsible and effective system for recreational marijuana in B.C. The goal is to allow British Columbians to buy non-medical marijuana in liquor stores by Christmas of next year.

While the sale of non-medical marijuana is not legal in Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stated he wants to legalize the sale of the product across the country, but has not yet provided a timeline for the move.

“Just as with alcohol, there are legitimate concerns about access to marijuana by youths. Our stores are an over-19, age-controlled environment and our industry has demonstrated the strongest compliance with identification checks,” said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith.

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BCGEU represents workers in nearly 200 public B.C. Liquor Stores around the province, and warehouses and distribution centres in Vancouver and Kamloops.

“B.C. needs to ensure that non-medical marijuana is retailed in the most socially responsible way possible. Liquor stores provide the most strictly controlled system for accessing a controlled substance, and are best suited for the retailing of non-medical marijuana. We have an effective warehousing, retail and distribution system in place, there is no need to reinvent the wheel,” added Smith.

The partnership will work with the existing and regulated distribution system of marijuana for medical use.

“In B.C., we have a successful wine and beer industry that creates good jobs and produces public revenues to fund schools and hospitals. Non-medical marijuana sales should follow a similar model. It would be open to a variety of sizes of producers, including an allowance for personal home production, but with the distribution and sale strictly controlled,” said Damian Kettlewell of the BCPLSA.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said it is too early to say what the best method would be for selling medicinal or non-medicinal marijuana.

“Really, we don’t know what the federal government’s going to do, what their steps will be as they move to regulation and taxation of marijuana,” he said. “I think there’s going to be lots of models proposed and hopefully they’re looking at what models are working in other places. Washington and Colorado in the States have been the leaders on this in North America and there should be lessons to learn there.”

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“It’s too early to say what should happen in the streets in Vancouver and across Canada.”

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