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Thomas: as haze clears on ‘half-baked’ cannabis plan, it’s time for sober second thought

Toronto – As the outcry grows against Doug Ford’s leaked plan to privatize the sale of cannabis, OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas is calling on the rookie premier to give it some sober second thought.

“The haze is clearing on this half-baked scheme, and people are realizing that it’s going to cause a lot more problems than it solves,” said Thomas. “Who’s going to pay for all the extra policing we’ll need? Who’s going to pay for all the extra inspectors?

“And except for profiteers and organized criminals, who else would actually benefit? Nobody.”

Since last week’s leak to the media, a growing number of municipal politicians and community leaders – including Toronto Mayor John Tory – have expressed concerns about the unforeseen enforcement and public health costs hidden in the sudden switch to a private system.

Thomas points out that public opinion research showed widespread support for the original plan to sell cannabis through publicly owned and managed Ontario Cannabis Stores.

“If Ford is truly committed to governing ‘for the people,’ he’ll sell cannabis the way people have said they want it sold: safely and responsibly,” Thomas said. “They don’t want a bunch of shady outfits where profits come before people.”

Thomas acknowledges the original plan to open just 40 public retail outlets in the first year wasn’t perfect.

“On this point, we agree with Doug Ford. Based on potential consumer demand, the black market will not be eliminated with an initial offering of only 40 stores,” Thomas said. “But that doesn’t mean he should throw out the public stores altogether.

“If the premier really believes in competition, why doesn’t he open the public stores alongside the private stores?” Thomas asked. “After a year, we’ll see if the people prefer the profit-driven privates or the high-quality public outlets.”

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