Liquor store operators say they should be authorized to sell recreational marijuana when it's legalized in Canada.

Liquor store operators say they should be authorized to sell recreational marijuana when it's legalized in Canada.

Liquor stores aim to sell marijuana

Private, government stores 'best suited' to become weed dealers, say union, store owners

Liquor stores – both private- and government-run outlets – should be authorized to sell recreational marijuana when the federal government delivers on its election promise to bring in a new regulated system.

That’s the pitch coming from the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, which represents government store workers, and the B.C. Private Liquor Store Association.

The two groups, normally competitors, joined forces Wednesday to argue their stores are well qualified to responsibly handle legalized marijuana, alongside beer, wine and spirits.

“We haven’t been aligned in the past  but we are aligned on this issue,” said Damian Kettlewell of the private stores association.

“We’re suggesting that we have the experience and the knowledge and, eventually, the product training to sell this product in liquor stores.”

He emphasized the aim is to serve as the retailers for recreational pot only, and not compete with existing medical marijuana providers.

Liquor stores are already required to check ID to ensure patrons are over 19 to prevent alcohol purchases by youth, said BCGEU president Stephanie Smith.

“Liquor stores provide the most strictly controlled system for accessing a controlled substance, and are best suited for the retailing of non-medical marijuana,” she said.

“We have an effective warehousing, retail and distribution system in place. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has so far set no timeline to legalize and regulate non-medical marijuana.

The City of Vancouver has been developing its own licensing system to authorize a limited number of marijuana storefronts and some other municipalities have considered a similar approach.

Asked if the new partnership is an attempt to head off yet more pot stores springing up and gaining local government approval, Kettlewell said there’s no need to create a new government bureaucracy to govern pot sales.

“There are some dry communities in B.C. that do not sell liquor,” Kettlewell said. “If there’s a municipality out there that does not want the sale of non-medical marijuana in their community, we’d fully respect that.”

He noted provincial rules currently require a minimum one-kilometre separation between private liquor stores and he’d expect municipalities that permit recreational pot would in most cases apply zoning rules that could further restrict locations, potentially with minimum buffers from schools and parks.

Don Briere, owner of the 19-store Weeds Glass and Gifts chain of marijuana storefronts, said he’s not worried about liquor outlets wresting away the burgeoning business.

“We are responsible,” he said. “We have many, many years of experience. They have none. If they want to jump on the bandwagon, you know what? It’s free enterprise. They can get in line behind the people who already have 20, 30 years in the industry.”

He argued retail sales of pot and booze should not happen in the same outlet.

“Alcohol and cannabis do not mix,” Briere said. “People get whacked out enough as it is. You get a drunk person buying cannabis and they smoke that – it’s like mixing all your prescription pills and drinking.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Artist Jim Holyoak’s installation “Quagmire.” Holyoak will be the first speaker for the Artist Talk Online Winter 2021 series. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
North Island College Artist Talk goes online for winter 2021

The series invites contemporary Canadian artists to speak about their professional practice

Colin J.D. Crooks has published his debut novel, a fantasy titled “The Shards of Etherious: Arisen.” (headshot photo courtesy Joslyn Kilborn Photography)
Cumberland author delves into fantasy world with debut novel

The Shards of Etherious: Arisen is the first book of a five-book series

Cathy Browne is very proud of her new front door. All the new doors are lovely and create an individual look for each room. Photo submitted
Courtenay’s Glacier View Lodge dressing up its doorways for residents

Glacier View Lodge’s vision of ‘feels like home’ has been enhanced this… Continue reading

Ginette Matthews shows off some of the wares at The Local Refillery. Photo by Femke Overmaat
Pandemic meant going digital quickly for Courtenay’s Local Refillery

Owner Ginette Matthews says system keep business open in its early months

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Employers might be able to require COVID-19 vaccination from employees: B.C. lawyer

‘An employer must make the case’ using expert science, explains lawyer David Mardiros

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders sits in on a COVID-19 briefing with Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, B.C. minister of health. (Birinder Narang/Twitter)
PHOTOS: Bernie Sanders visits B.C. landmarks through the magic of photo editing

Residents jump on viral trend of photoshopping U.S. senator into images

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A woman injects herself with crack cocaine at a supervised consumption site Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Drug users at greater risk of dying as services scale back in second wave of COVID-19

It pins the blame largely on a lack of supports, a corrupted drug supply

Wet’suwet’en supporters and Coastal GasLink opponents continue to protest outside the B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, February 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
‘We’re still in it’: Wet’suwet’en push forward on rights recognition

The 670-km Coastal GasLink pipeline was approved by B.C. and 20 elected First Nations councils on its path

The sky above Mt. Benson in Nanaimo is illuminated by flares as search and rescuers help an injured hiker down the mountain to a waiting ambulance. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Search and Rescue)
Search plane lights up Nanaimo mountain with flares during icy rope rescue

Rescuers got injured hiker down Mt. Benson to a waiting ambulance Saturday night

Jennifer Cochrane, a Public Health Nurse with Prairie Mountain Health in Virden, administers the COVID-19 vaccine to Robert Farquhar with Westman Regional Laboratory, during the first day of immunizations at the Brandon COVID-19 vaccination supersite in Brandon, Man., on Monday, January 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith - POOL
Top doctor urges Canadians to keep up with COVID measures, even as vaccines roll out

More than 776,606 vaccines have been administered so far

From the left: Midway RCMP Csts. Jonathan Stermscheg and Chris Hansen, Public Servant Leanne Mclaren and Cpl. Phil Peters. Pictured in the front are Mclaren’s dog, Lincoln and Peters’ dog, Angel. Photo courtesy of BC RCMP
B.C. Mounties commended for bringing firewood to elderly woman

Cpl. Phil Peters said he and detachment members acted after the woman’s husband went to hospital

Dr. Jerome Leis and Dr. Lynfa Stroud are pictured at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto on Thursday, January 21, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
‘It wasn’t called COVID at the time:’ One year since Canada’s first COVID-19 case

The 56-year-old man was admitted to Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

An Uber driver’s vehicle is seen after the company launched service, in Vancouver, Friday, Jan. 24, 2020. Several taxi companies have lost a court bid to run Uber and Lyft off the road in British Columbia. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Taxi companies lose court bid to quash Uber, Lyft approvals in British Columbia

Uber said in a statement that the ruling of the justice is clear and speaks for itself

Most Read