OPSEU News Press Releases banner

Base cannabis retailing on facts, not feelings: Thomas

Toronto – Provinces should base their plans for retailing cannabis on scientific evidence, not their feelings about the drug, the President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says.

“Reading the report of the federal task force on cannabis today, it seems that the task force, overall, opposes selling liquor and cannabis out of the same stores,” Warren (Smokey) Thomas said. “This is based on the belief that selling the two together leads to consumption of the two together.

“But as the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has already indicated, ‘there is no evidence as to whether selling cannabis and alcohol alongside one another encourages or facilitates co-use,’” he said. “That’s why we continue to see the LCBO as the best place to sell cannabis.”

Thomas congratulated the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation on its work, which proposes a highly-regulated “seed-to-sale” system that seeks to minimize social harm. But he emphasized that provinces should keep the public retail option front and centre as they plan their own distribution systems.

“We support cannabis sales in the LCBO because the LCBO has the experience in dealing with a controlled substance,” he said. “That’s the same reason the LCBO is Ontarians’ number one choice when it comes to retailing cannabis.”

In an August 2016 poll by Nanos Research that asked Ontarians where they would be comfortable seeing cannabis sold, 41 per cent of respondents gave the LCBO as their first choice – well ahead of the 32 per cent who chose pharmacies and the 17 per cent who chose private retail stores.

Also in August, CAMH recommended “that there be a public monopoly” on cannabis sales. “This could mean sales by provincial liquor boards or by new public entities with a social responsibility mandate,” the hospital said. 

“We completely agree with the task force when it calls on governments to act now to build their capacity to handle research, laboratory testing, licensing and inspection related to cannabis,” OPSEU’s Thomas said. “If we make the investments in infrastructure that are needed – from labs to stores – then I believe we can keep the social harm from cannabis to a minimum.”

For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas 613-329-1931