Ontario’s recently elected Progressive Conservative government announced its plans to end the LCBO’s near-monopoly on alcohol sales in its throne speech last week.

That means beer and wine sales will be expanded to big box stores, grocery stores, and corner stores, which fulfills a major campaign promise that the Ford government has called a “show of respect for consumers”, according to Global News.

It’s great that Canada’s most populous province is finally bringing its alcohol laws in line with much of the country, but the same can’t be said about cannabis.

While Ontario is liberalizing its liquor laws after years of criticism and complaints against what many have called an “antiquated system“, there are no plans to similarly liberalize recreational cannabis sales when it becomes legal.

The provincial government will have complete control over cannabis– despite the fact that many of the criticisms lobbed against the LCBO can be made against Ontario Cannabis Stores, leaving consumers confused and with questions like:

  • Where’s the respect for consumers when it comes to cannabis?
  • Why can Doug Ford and his government trust the people to be responsible with alcohol but not cannabis?
  • What’s with the double standard?

“Other provinces have already conclusively demonstrated that you can expand points of sale [of alcohol] in this way while rigorously enforcing the law,” Premier Ford told Global News back in May. When it comes to cannabis, he doesn’t even have to look at other provinces to see that private sales of cannabis can work

It’s great that Canada’s most populous province is finally bringing its alcohol laws in line with much of the country, but the same can’t be said about cannabis– all he needs to do is look at the hundreds of dispensaries already operating in Ontario!

In 2014, a C.D. Howe Institute study concluded:

Ontario’s liquor system “imposes excessive costs on consumers, restricts their menu of choices, and limits the accessibility of stores retailing alcohol.

In addition, it imposes distortions on small domestic breweries and wineries and puts them at a competitive disadvantage relative to a few large Canadian and foreign producers.”

Swap out “alcohol” for “cannabis”, and “wineries” and “breweries” for “growers”, and that’s a dead ringer for Ontario’s recreational cannabis retail system once it becomes legal on October 17.

Plus, it’s not as if the government is somehow inherently better at keeping age-restricted products out of the hands of the youth. A study from May 2011 showed that 25% of minors aged 15-18 were able to buy alcohol at an LCBO without I.D, while only 12.5% of minors were able to purchase tobacco at private convenience stores without I.D.

 

Sources

Global News: COMMENTARY: Good riddance to government-run liquor retail.

Global News: Ontario government lays out promises to fund health care, cut waste in first throne speech.

Toronto CityNews: How alcohol is sold in provinces across Canada.