LCBO well suited to sell marijuana when legal, Kathleen Wynne says
Ontario premier says it makes sense to use distribution system province already has in place
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says it "makes a lot of sense" to use the LCBO to sell marijuana after the federal government legalizes sale of the drug.
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"It makes sense to me that the liquor distribution mechanism that we have in place — the LCBO — is very well-suited to putting in place the social responsibility aspects that would need to be in place," she said Monday.
"Obviously, I don't know what the timeline is with the federal government, but it seems to me that using that distribution network of the LCBO … I think that that makes a lot of sense."
The Liquor Control Board of Ontario, owned by the provincial government, operates more than 600 liquor stores provincewide.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau included marijuana legalization in mandate letters to his ministers.
Along with Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale and Health Minister Jane Philpott, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould is set to begin a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana.
As for where marijuana would be sold, Trudeau has said he doesn't envision pot being available at corner stores.
No need to 'reinvent the wheel' for pot sales: union
Last month, the head of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), representing workers at the retailer, said marijuana should be sold at LCBO stores if Ottawa moves ahead with plans to legalize the drug, arguing that the LCBO already has expertise in safely selling a controlled substance.
"There would not be any need to reinvent the wheel," union president Warren (Smokey) Thomas said in November.
"For one thing they have the social responsibility part covered — they do age checks, they do refusals if somebody's intoxicated."
Thomas also cited the liquor retailer's "very secure" warehouse and distribution system.
Marijuana legalization could be windfall for province
Experts have already suggested that legalizing marijuana makes economic sense, especially for Ontario.
University of Western professor Mike Moffatt previously suggested to CBC News that Ontario could make some $5 million per year in tax revenue from pot sales, an estimate based on the population and the fact that Colorado earned over $2 million in taxes in just one month after that state legalized marijuana.
Moffatt also said the province would save even more if police stopped spending money on marijuana-related investigations.
It's less clear what legalization, and a potential LCBO-connection, would mean for the dozens of medical marijuana dispensaries that have popped up recently in Toronto. The shops — there are six in the small Kensington Market neighbourhood alone — aren't technically legal, but most of the owners are hoping to establish their businesses before the government moves to legalize the drug.