Liquor store operators say they should be authorized to sell recreational marijuana when it's legalized in Canada.

Liquor stores aim to sell marijuana

Private, government stores 'best suited' to become weed dealers, say union, store owners

Liquor stores – both private- and government-run outlets – should be authorized to sell recreational marijuana when the federal government delivers on its election promise to bring in a new regulated system.

That’s the pitch coming from the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, which represents government store workers, and the B.C. Private Liquor Store Association.

The two groups, normally competitors, joined forces Wednesday to argue their stores are well qualified to responsibly handle legalized marijuana, alongside beer, wine and spirits.

“We haven’t been aligned in the past  but we are aligned on this issue,” said Damian Kettlewell of the private stores association.

“We’re suggesting that we have the experience and the knowledge and, eventually, the product training to sell this product in liquor stores.”

He emphasized the aim is to serve as the retailers for recreational pot only, and not compete with existing medical marijuana providers.

Liquor stores are already required to check ID to ensure patrons are over 19 to prevent alcohol purchases by youth, said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith.

“Liquor stores provide the most strictly controlled system for accessing a controlled substance, and are best suited for the retailing of non-medical marijuana,” she said.

“We have an effective warehousing, retail and distribution system in place. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has so far set no timeline to legalize and regulate non-medical marijuana.

The City of Vancouver has been developing its own licensing system to authorize a limited number of marijuana storefronts and some other municipalities have considered a similar approach.

Asked if the new partnership is an attempt to head off yet more pot stores springing up and gaining local government approval, Kettlewell said there’s no need to create a new government bureaucracy to govern pot sales.

“There are some dry communities in B.C. that do not sell liquor,” Kettlewell said. “If there’s a municipality out there that does not want the sale of non-medical marijuana in their community, we’d fully respect that.”

He noted provincial rules currently require a minimum one-kilometre separation between private liquor stores and he’d expect municipalities that permit recreational pot would in most cases apply zoning rules that could further restrict locations, potentially with minimum buffers from schools and parks.

Don Briere, owner of the 19-store Weeds Glass and Gifts chain of marijuana storefronts, said he’s not worried about liquor outlets wresting away the burgeoning business.

“We are responsible,” he said. “We have many, many years of experience. They have none. If they want to jump on the bandwagon, you know what? It’s free enterprise. They can get in line behind the people who already have 20, 30 years in the industry.”

He argued retail sales of pot and booze should not happen in the same outlet.

“Alcohol and cannabis do not mix,” Briere said. “People get whacked out enough as it is. You get a drunk person buying cannabis and they smoke that – it’s like mixing all your prescription pills and drinking.”

Just Posted

BC SPCA proposes fines for animal mistreatment, reduction in commercial trade

Animal welfare group’s ideas brought to Victoria councillors

New Victoria graving dock will offer high-paying jobs

New facility will reuse and treat any water required for repair process

Trial date delayed in case of slain Oak Bay sisters

Case of Andrew Berry, charged in deaths of daughters, will reconvene in three weeks

Pearkes opens doors to home renovation and decor expo

Plenty of ideas for homeowners at Victoria Early Spring Home Expo running Friday through Sunday

Man surprises trial, claims responsibility for Saanich sex assault

Fellow inmate of accused David Hope claims responsibility

Light snow leads to heavy traffic in Victoria

Wednesday’s snowfall caused traffic chaos as commuters tried to get home

Indigenous elders share history with Ladysmith students

‘Our kids learning their history through elders is nothing that we can find in our textbooks’

It’s quietly business as usual for the E&N

Waiting game continues in quest for direction on service ceased since 2011

Dozens represent Saanich at B.C. Winter Games

More than 2,100 athletes, coaches and family in Kamloops for Games, Feb. 22 to 25

New UVic program combines Indigenous and non-Indigenous law

A leading Aboriginal legal theorist praises a new program at the University… Continue reading

OT win gives Cougars early lead in VIJHL playoffs series

Westshore led 2-0 after one, Victoria comeback completed with Berryman goal

Three new judges appointed to B.C. Supreme Court

Two spots filled in Vancouver, one in New Westminster

Pilot program trains next generation of Island farmers

Parksville’s GoodSeeds introduces youth 17-30 years to agricultural careers

B.C. MP invites convicted terrorist to Trudeau reception in India

Jaspal Atwal was convicted of trying to assassinate an Indian cabinet minister

Most Read