Montreal

SAQ union explores selling marijuana at liquor stores

The debate is swirling over whether marijuana should be sold at SAQs after Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne suggested Monday provincial liquor outlets should be the point of sale for legalized pot.

Montreal cannibis advocate raises concern pot sold at SAQs would be over-regulated and over-taxed

The federal government is set to begin a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana. (CBC)

The debate is swirling over whether marijuana should be sold at SAQs after Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne suggested Monday that provincial liquor outlets should be the point of sale for legalized pot.

The union representing workers at Quebec liquor stores says it has ordered a study into the possibility, and the results are expected next year.

Until then, the Syndicat des employés de magasins et de bureaux de la SAQ isn't taking a position on the issue.

"We must also consult our union members on the subject," union president Alexandre Joly said in an email.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to legalize marijuana, but the details on where and how it will be sold are still to be worked out.

Over-taxation at the liquor store?

Adam Greenblatt, executive director and co-founder of Santé Cannabis, a Montreal medical marijuana clinic, is against the idea of selling the drug at SAQs. He argues alcohol and pot shouldn't be sold side by side.

Adam Greenblatt, co-founder of the medical marijuana clinic Santé Cannabis, is wary of pot being sold at SAQs. (Jaela Bernstien/CBC)
Greenblatt said he's concerned restricting the sale of legal marijuana to SAQs would lead to over-regulation and over-taxation, pushing some marijuana users back to black market providers. 

"I would prefer to see it sold in pharmacies, dispensaries and age-restricted coffee shops," he told CBC Montreal`s Radio Noon. 

On Twitter, people seem to agree that SAQs are not the place for marijuana. 

Feds launch consultation

Key federal cabinet ministers – Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, along with Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Health Minister Jane Philpott – are set to begin a federal–provincial–territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana.

For her part, Wynne said LCBO outlets would be well-positioned to sell the drug in Ontario.

"It makes sense to me that the liquor distribution mechanism that we have in place – the LCBO – is very well-suited to... the social responsibility aspects that would need to be in place," she said Monday.

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger and a prominent B.C. union that represents workers in government-owned stores in that province have taken similar positions. 

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