Liquor stores not place to sell pot, says Rona Ambrose

Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose says any plan to sell pot in liquor stores like the LCBO wouldn't guarantee the drug would be kept out of the hands of children.

Interim Conservative leader addresses Ontario premier's suggestion in year-end interview

Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose says keeping legalized marijuana out of the hands of kids is a 'very serious public health issue.' 1:54

Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose says any plan to sell pot in liquor stores like the LCBO would not guarantee it will be kept out of the hands of children.

This criticism comes after Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne suggested this week that the federal government look to its provincial liquor agency as one way to sell marijuana. The premier said there would be advantages to using the LCBO.

"The LCBO, is very well-suited to putting in place the social responsibility aspects that need to be in place," Wynne told reporters.

Ontario isn't the only province considering that approach.

There is a push in British Columbia to use private liquor stores there to distribute and sell marijuana.

But the idea does not make much sense to the federal Opposition leader.

"Well, that's not been hugely successful in terms of restricting access for kids. So we'll be watching that. That to me is the No. 1 issue," Ambrose said in a year-end interview with CBC News.

She points to the Canadian Paediatric Association statement this week that marijuana, either recreational or medicinal, is harmful to teenagers' developing brains.

"When we look at our experience with alcohol and access for kids, it's not just that easy to say we're going to 'regulate and restrict,'" Ambrose said, echoing the Liberal throne speech, which pledged to "legalize, regulate and restrict" the sale of marijuana.

Restricting access

On Tuesday, Health Minister Jane Philpott said keeping marijuana out of the hands of kids is the government's goal as well.

"The whole purpose of why we have decided that it's appropriate for us to legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana is because of the impact of marijuana on youth, and children in particular.

Federal health minister says a plan to legalize marijuana is at an early stage and it's too soon for details on sales and age restriction. 1:15

"As I mentioned briefly in the House this week, a report came out again this week talking about the incredibly high rates of youth access to marijuana, and that's one of the things we want to address and will address," Philpott told reporters following a meeting of the cabinet.

"We have not made any decisions yet in terms of age [of access]," she added.

Asked about selling marijuana through provincial liquor stores, Philpott said the federal government is not yet at the stage to have discussions with the provinces. She added that three departments involved in the file — Health, Justice and Public Safety — have had an initial meeting and will meet again in the New Year.

Ambrose said she is waiting to see what the federal government will bring forward, but she wants it to take a slow and prudent approach to this campaign promise.

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