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Tried and tested: liquor distribution and retail system ready to manage legalized marijuana

VANCOUVER – September 13, 2016: The Responsible Marijuana Retail Alliance of BC, a partnership between the BC Private Liquor Store Association (BCPLSA) and BC Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU), today communicated its support of the federal government’s process toward the legalization and regulation of marijuana across Canada.

The alliance intends to offer advice to policymakers on the safe and effective distribution and sale of recreational marijuana, recommending liquor stores as the model best suited for retailing purposes.

“Liquor stores provide the most strictly controlled system for accessing a controlled substance because they already have the proper infrastructure and mechanisms required for the safe retailing of non-medical marijuana,” remarked Damian Kettlewell, marijuana spokesperson for the BCPLSA. “If provincial and territorial governments can regulate the retail landscape through the existing liquor control mechanism the high level of compliance and safety of the liquor system can flow through to the marijuana retail system.”

The Responsible Marijuana Retail Alliance of BC has examined post-prohibition liquor regulations to help shape its recommendations. Most of these regulations remain in place, and Canada’s liquor regulatory system is a model that should be used for introducing other legal, controlled substances into the country, such as marijuana, according to the alliance.

“Provincial and territorial liquor systems have nearly a century of experience managing the distribution of a controlled substance. Adding marijuana to the mandate means the existing infrastructure can move beyond those aspects of cannabis consumption that were rooted in illegality,” said Stephanie Smith, president of the BCGEU. “And just like our system for alcohol sales, revenues generated could be reinvested in essential, and underfunded, social services like education and health care.”

The Responsible Marijuana Retail Alliance of BC submitted its policy paper to the Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation on August 29, 2016, and looks forward to continuing the discussion with all relevant stakeholders.

In December 2015, the BCGEU partnered with the B.C. Private Liquor Stores Association (BCPLSA) to form an alliance to promote the regulation, distribution and sale of recreational marijuana through public and private liquor stores across B.C. The Responsible Marijuana Retail Alliance consists of the BCPLSA, who represent the private liquor store industry across the province, and the BCGEU, whose members include over 3,800 retail store and warehouse employees at the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch.

For more information contact:

  • Evan Stewart, BCGEU Communications (604) 220-3095
  • Damian Kettlewell, BCPLSA (778) 840-8049, [email protected]