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Let us sell pot, convenience stores urge Commons committee

The Ontario government has released a first batch of 14 municipalities that will have government-run marijuana stores.
The Ontario government has released a first batch of 14 municipalities that will have government-run marijuana stores. David McNew/Getty Images

Convenience stores should be allowed to sell recreational marijuana, a trade association argues.

Corner stores already sell products like cigarettes and lottery tickets that can’t be sold to minors, argues Andrew Klukas, president of the Western Convenience Stores Association.

“There are going to be some standardized, quality-controlled, pre-packaged products that could be handled, ” he says.

“You don’t have to have depth of knowledge about the product. They are no different from any other age-restricted products that we carry now.”

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READ MORE: Colorado’s private-sector pot stores strict about IDing minors, study shows

Convenience store workers would have to be trained to judge intoxication, as people who serve alcohol are, Klukas said.

“I think that would be useful. That is something we would build into best practices, and make training and information for retailers to implement.”

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WATCH: A federal task force report says provinces should oversee retail distribution of legalized marijuana. Alberta’s government says it’s working on new regulations, but hasn’t made any decisions. As Global’s Gary Bobrovitz reports, some say this could mean a pot shop in every neighbourhood.

Could marijuana shops come to your neighbourhood? Some say they will
Could marijuana shops come to your neighbourhood? Some say they will

Convenience store workers’ pay would have to increase to reflect the added training and responsibility, he conceded.

“If we have to pay them more, that is what we would have to do in order to participate in that business.”

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The organization’s submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Health was recently made public. The committee is holding hearings about marijuana legalization all this week.

READ MORE: Ontario to sell marijuana in 150 government-run stores; must be used in ‘private residences’

Last week, Ontario became the first province to explain how the legal retail sale of marijuana will work.

One feature of Ontario’s system involves completely separating sales of alcohol and marijuana in different locations, although pot will be sold by the province’s liquor store monopoly. (Alcohol and cannabis can both be used moderately, but it’s dangerous to combine the two.)

The WCSA has argued in the past that its members should be allowed to sell alcohol.

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READ MORE: Should Saskatchewan convenience stores be able to sell alcohol?

Should the same corner store be allowed to sell both alcohol and pot?

“It’s a tough one,” Klukas says. “Arguably, you don’t want people smoking pot and drinking at the same time. That’s the argument for not having them in the same place.”

“The question of whether they should be sold in the same place – there are good arguments for saying they should not be.”

A poll in July of 2016 showed only three per cent support for selling pot in convenience stores, far behind other options like liquor stores, pharmacies or existing dispensaries.