Liquor Groups Lobby for Cannabis Sales

In an opinion piece published in the Vancouver Sun, public and private liquor store advocates made their case for why recreational cannabis should be sold through their stores.

B.C. Private Liquor Store Association’s non-medical marijuana spokesman Damian Kettlewell and B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union president Stephanie Smith joint penned the piece after the two groups formed the Responsible Marijuana Retail Alliance of B.C. to push for their goal — cannabis “warehoused and distributed through the existing Liquor Distribution Branch system and sold in B.C. alongside alcohol in liquor stores.”

The group believes that their record and established system qualifies them to sell another controlled substance.

“Creating a new, parallel system for marijuana would be costly, time consuming, and would divert money from social programs, education and addictions treatment into an additional and unnecessary bureaucracy,” the group argued.

The group envisions a system similar to existing wine and beer industries where product is sold to a central wholesaler, they also are in favour of individuals being able to produce cannabis for their own use, similar to home beer brewing.

But many in the cannabis community are against the proposal in B.C., and other provinces, to put cannabis and liquor in the same building.

Phoenix Pain Management Society Dispensary Operator Matthew O’Donnell said while there may be merit to looking at a liquor store model for legalized sales, it’s “ludicrous” to put alcohol and cannabis under the same roof.

“A lot of people use cannabis to treat their alcohol addictions, so I feel any government insinuation that they want to put cannabis for sale in liquor stores show me just how much of lack of understanding they have of the true issue,” said O’Donnell. “I will actively speak out against that.”