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Private cannabis scheme a sinking ship: Thomas

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU President

Toronto – OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says Doug Ford is scrambling to salvage his sinking cannabis ship now that several municipalities have refused to sign on to his irresponsible privatization scheme.

“It looks like this ship has sunk at the dock,” Thomas said. 

The Conservative government is trying to cover up its trainwreck privatization plan by slashing the number of retail licences it will issue from 40 to 25, claiming there isn’t enough cannabis to meet their previous commitment. But Ford is clearly blowing smoke, Thomas said.

“I’m calling BS on this one,” said Thomas. “This is not about the supply of cannabis. It’s about a rookie government panicking because their reckless plan is getting lacklustre traction. Some large Ontario municipalities are opting out and I’ll bet that has the Premier shaking in his boots. They can see right through this scheme, which is putting the interests of Ford’s corporate cronies ahead of the health and safety of our children and communities.”

Cities like Mississauga and Markham have already vetoed private cannabis stores within their borders and more will follow suit, Thomas added. People are justifiably concerned that Ford broke an election promise to keep kids safe by rolling out regulations that would let retailers set up shop just 150 metres away from a school. 

First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida said many Ontarians feel that cannabis sales would be in better hands with the LCBO, and the government should give municipalities that option.

Instead, the Tories rushed Thursday to say they were scaling back the number of private retail licences to 25 and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario would use a lottery system to determine who gets them. Those results will be revealed just a week before the Jan. 22 deadline for municipalities to opt out. 

It’s yet another example of the government’s gross mismanagement of the cannabis file, Almeida said. They’ve already taken a lot of heat for bringing in lax regulations and shortchanging municipalities who are facing steep costs in policing and public health. The privately-run Ontario Cannabis Store – the only source of legal cannabis in the province – is mired in secrecy and has been slammed for long delivery delays.

“Open for business? What a joke,” said Almeida. “These Queen’s Park clowns are so incompetent, they’re impossible to underestimate.”

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