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The responsible way is the only way to sell cannabis: OPSEU’s president says

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas in the Queen's Park media gallery.
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TORONTO —  The President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union says alarming financial figures from the Crown corporation responsible for cannabis are proof the Ford government must go back to the drawing board on how the drug is sold.

Warren (Smokey) Thomas says the fact the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corp. lost $42 million in the last fiscal year, combined with the botched rollout to sell cannabis in private stores, shows that Ontario must have a responsible public option.

“The bottom line is the Premier’s cannabis plan is awash in $42 million in red ink,” said Thomas. “This would not have happened if the Conservatives had stuck to the previous government’s plan to have the LCBO handle cannabis sales.”

The LCBO plan would have seen 80 stores open in Ontario, under the failed Conservative plan to rely on private retailers, scarcely more than two dozen stores are selling cannabis, Thomas pointed out.

Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU’s First Vice-President/Treasurer and a Corrections Officer, says the only winners so far are members of crime gangs who are probably making a fortune selling cannabis.

“I have seen victims of illegally sold drugs every day when I worked in correctional facilities and it’s heartbreaking to see so many young lives destroyed,” Almeida said. “I appeal to Mr. Ford to put these crime gangs out of business and opt for the responsible plan to sell cannabis, a publicly run plan, the only responsible choice.”

It was expected that Doug Ford would be out of his depth in terms of understanding the importance of properly funded and resourced public services, Thomas said, but it’s a little surprising that the Premier is so clearly in over his head in terms of overseeing Crown corporations.

Thomas said Ford’s experience of running a small labelling company, which among other things designs pricetags and packaging for retail stores, has clearly not prepared him to handle difficult issues like the responsible management of cannabis sales.

“The numbers are in and this government’s handling of the cannabis file is not working,” Thomas said. 

“But this is far bigger than dollars and cents, the lives of our young people are at stake and they deserve better than half-baked plans dreamed up by backroom lobbyists. ”

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