The leading politician in Canada’s province of Ontario said that it would "make a lot of sense" for the liquor stores operated by the provincial government to sell marijuana if Liberals in the national parliament are able to legalize the drug. Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said on December 14, "It makes sense to me that the liquor distribution mechanism that we have in place, the LCBO, is very well suited to putting into place the social responsibility aspects that would need to be in place."
Wynne, who represents the Liberal party and has been heralded as the first openly homosexual head of government in the English-speaking world, added “Obviously I don't know what the timeline is with the federal government, but it seems to me that using that distribution network of the LCBO...I think that makes a lot of sense."
Newly-elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government pledged in November to "legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana." The pledge is a traditional plank in the Liberal platform. In Ontario, Canada’s most populous and wealthy province, the Liquor Control Board has 650 stores and enjoys a near monopoly on alcohol sales. Wynn says the LCBO has the necessary expertise and experience to sell legalized, recreational cannabis.
Canada’s Liberal Party issued its first promise to legalize cannabis early in 2014 before it became the ruling party with the election of young Prime Minister Trudeau, the scion of a Liberal prime minister of the 1970s. The Conservative Party thereafter launched advertisements warning that marijuana would be sold to kids at ordinary retail locations.
Before legalization takes place, some officials are saying that a joint provincial, territorial and federal committee should get input from experts in the field of public safety, substance abuse, and public health. Marijuana activists are calling for a moratorium on marijuana arrests while the Canadian government develops a policy on legalization.
The provincial government would take its cue from the national government over how to deal in legalized pot. LCBO spokesperson Christine Bujold said, however, that without legislation and direction from the provincial government, her agency will wait to make any concrete plans.
The Canadian labor movement is looking forward to day that recreational pot is available, legally. In November, the Ontario Public Service Employees Union said marijuana should be made available at LCBO stores where its members are employed. OPSEU president Smokey Thomas said at the time, "Marijuana must be a controlled substance, and no one has more experience retailing controlled substances than the workers at the LCBO.” He added, "There needs to be a strong regulatory framework in place, including minimum age limits, a ban on marketing, and a plan to prevent cannabis-impaired driving."
Elsewhere in Canada, labor unions that organize government employees at both government-operated and privately owned liquor stores in British Columbia are united in advocating the sale of legal pot through the existing alcohol retail system.
In the United States, 23 states and the District of Columbia have laws legalizing marijuana in some form. The District of Columbia and the states of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington have legalized marijuana for recreational use. Also, number of states have also decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, while other states have passed medical marijuana laws allowing for limited use.
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