New Brunswick

NB Liquor CEO leads committee on selling pot in liquor stores

The president of NB Liquor is heading a committee looking at what might happen should Canadian liquor stores be asked to sell marijuana.

Liquor stores, pharmacies among options if marijuana is legalized

Canada's liquor boards are studying the idea of selling marijuana, if it's legalized. (CBC)

The president of NB Liquor is heading a committee looking at what might happen should Canadian liquor stores be asked to sell marijuana.

The committee is being chaired by NB Liquor president Brian Harriman, and was set up by the association of Canada's 13 liquor boards, the Canadian Association of Liquor Jurisdictions.

It's in response to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's statement he wants to decriminalize small amounts of the drug, and investigate its regulated sale.

That's led the association to start preparations in case governments ever ask liquor stores to become marijuana vendors.

A liquor board committee, headed by NB Liquor's president, is examining other jurisdictions where marijuana has been legalized or decriminalized. (CBC)
"What we're exploring is what's happened in jurisdictions where it's been legalized," said Rowland Dunning, the association's executive director.

"What the issues were in rolling it out, any pitfalls."

That includes looking at states such as Oregon and Colorado, where pot is now legal.

Currently only the 29 licensed growers in Canada can legally sell the drug as a medicine, and send it to customers via Canada Post.

That includes one in New Brunswick, Moncton's Organigram, where the CEO feels mail delivery will still be needed.

"I'm not sure that everybody in society is going to be comfortable moseying up to the counter, in a very public place, and stand there and order marijuana," said Denis Arsenault.

The New Brunswick government has said the ball remains in Ottawa's court, for now.

Marijuana is still not even a drug approved by Health Canada.

Paul Blanchard, executive director of the N.B. Pharmacists' Association, says marijuana can interact with other drugs, so pharmacists feel they should be involved in its sale if legalized. (CBC)
The New Brunswick Pharmacists' Association has said patients will be best served when professionals are involved in dispensing a drug.

"We do know that marijuana does have impacts on a person's health and certainly has certain interactions with other medications," said Paul Blanchard, executive director of the association. "Our members are concerned from a health perspective that our members should be part of that process."

A federal task force led by Toronto-area MP and former police chief Bill Blair is looking into the regulatory framework for decriminalization or outright legalization of marijuana for recreational use.

As recently as two weeks ago the federal government says it has set no timeframe on that.

The CALJ committee's work will take place over the coming three months.

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