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

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.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 70 new cases overnight

The total number of cases in the region is now at 1,426

An employee of the Adventure Hotel was taken to hospital on Nov. 20 after she confronted a customer of Empire Coffee about not wearing a mask. File photo.
Nelson hotel employee suffers heart attack after being assaulted in anti-mask incident

An accountant at the Adventure Hotel is in hospital in Kelowna

Group fitness classes are on hold at the Nelson and District Community Complex. File photo
Group fitness classes cancelled at Nelson, Salmo rec centres

Parking enforcement is also coming to the Nelson and District Community Complex

Nearly 4,000 magazine are available to be read digitally through the Nelson Public Library. Photo: Tracey Therrien
CHECK THIS OUT: The internet before the internet

From Avi Silberstein at the Nelson library

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Barrels pictured outside Oliver winery, Quinta Ferreira, in May. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
B.C. Master of Wine reflects on industry’s teetering economic state

Pandemic, for some wine makers, has been a blessing in disguise. For others, not so much.

Most Read