Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Why Liquor Stores Need to Sell Pot

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Why Liquor Stores Need to Sell Pot

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Why liquor stores need to sell pot

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An editorial from the Prince George Citizen, published Dec. 6:

The B.C. NDP government tipped its hand Tuesday on how it plans to regulate the legal sale of marijuana.

Besides setting the age at 19 to buy, possess and consume pot, similar to alcohol and tobacco, the province said the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch will be the sole supplier, distributing pot to private and public stores in the same manner it already does with booze.

The government didn't address exactly who will sell pot but it looks like the NDP will take a different tact from the model already laid out in Ontario, where legal pot will only be available in about 150 stores, all operated by that province's liquor control board. There, current private retail pot sales operations will be illegal and pot will be sold only in stand-alone storefronts, separate from alcohol.

Hopefully in B.C., the unnecessary duplication and mistrust of the private sector in the Ontario plan will be ignored. The path forward that the NDP seems to be suggesting is to simply use the existing alcohol infrastructure to not only control supply and distribution but also to look after sales.

In other words, the public B.C. liquor stores, along with the private liquor outlets, will be the sole retail sources of legal pot. They already have existing licences to sell safe and legally-produced intoxicants to adult consumers and their staff and management already operate with the best practices to keep those products out of the hands of minors.

At least out of the gate, private pot dispensaries can't provide that oversight and, as in Ontario, they will need to be closed down. That doesn't mean that option can't be explored later but for now, it's the best way to insure safe, legal pot from legitimate production facilities (not illegal grow operations with proceeds to organized crime) is sold strictly to adults.

Allowing existing liquor stores to sell pot will also protect their business.

The Washington Post reported this week on the work of university researchers who have found a 15 per cent decline in alcohol sales in states where medical marijuana is easily accessible. …

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