The Ontario government’s plan to move away from a lottery system for retail cannabis stores is “bound to make an already bad situation worse,” according to OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford recently said the province plans to open the cannabis market for retail locations in 2020.
The change would allow the market to dictate its own success, the premier said, noting more stores would also help to dissolve the black market.
“What will it take for the government to understand that cannabis retail stores need to be operated by trained professionals?” Thomas said.
An “open allocation” system for issuing retail cannabis licenses as early as January could equal licenses for more than 1,000 outlets across Ontario. However, the Ford government hasn’t mentioned exactly how many licenses it will issue in the New Year. Under the lottery system, 75 licenses have been issued.
“I can’t figure out why the Conservatives think it makes sense to continue on with this privatization disaster,” Thomas said. “We need a responsible plan, the kind of plan the previous government had that would have put cannabis sales in the hands of the LCBO.
As well, moving cannabis sales in Ontario to the LCBO would improve public safety, according to OPSEU.
“LCBO stores have trained professionals who have the training and experience to handle sales of controlled substances,” Thomas said, adding changing the rules will break the government’s promise of tight regulations.
“What does this new plan involve? It involves flooding the market. How is that responsible? The second promise was to keep our kids safe. This doesn’t keep our kids safe,” Thomas said. “Our members who operate LCBO stores are experts in responsible sales. They keep our kids and our communities safe because they are trained and qualified. They take social responsibility seriously.”