Canadian dispensary owners and operators have fired back at liquor groups that they feel have no business being in the cannabis industry.

After several politicians and liquor groups came forward in the last month with their support for using liquor stores as distributors of legalized cannabis the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries published a press release that said there’s no need to replace a model that already works.

“Dispensaries have 20 years of expertise in providing safe and dignified access to medical cannabis along with education on its use,” said CAMCD president Jamie Shaw in the release. “It makes the most sense to utilize the existing distribution system to sell cannabis in a legalized context.”

CAMCD vice-president Dana Larsen said he isn’t surprised to see liquor stores express interest in the expanding cannabis industry, but that these retailers aren’t equipped with the expertise to sell or stock the substance.

Larsen said as the government moves forward with regulation, officials should look at areas such as Colorado, where cannabis is only available in specialized dispensaries.

“Patients prefer dispensaries over both the black market and current legal options. They like and trust this system,” said Larsen. “If a goal of legalization is to put an end to the black market, this is the best way accomplish that.”

CAMCD advisor Rielle Capler said alcohol and cannabis shouldn’t be grouped together for sale.

“Selling both products at the same outlet could promote unintended consequences,” said Capler. “We want to see a public health approach for legalization in Canada that will increase potential benefits and reduce potential harms.”

Shaw said that her organization has developed a thorough certification program that provides a guideline for practices to dispensaries, a model that should be used going forward for retail sales of recreational cannabis.

An unaffiliated campaign is attempting to raise opposition to liquor organization sale of cannabis with a petition to be sent to government.