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Canadian Liquor Stores Want You to Be Able to Buy Weed with Your Six Pack

It would, admittedly, be pretty convenient.

That sign could soon say "and weed." Photo via Flickr user Chris Waits

Liquor stores in British Columbia and Ontario want to start selling weed once it becomes legal in Canada.

The two unions representing BC's public and private liquor stores announced a partnership this week—the Responsible Marijuana Retail Alliance of BC—through which they're advocating to sell recreational pot at retail locations by next Christmas.

Their logic seems to be that liquor stores already sell a controlled substance that gets people fucked up, so adding weed to their mix just makes sense.


"Just as with alcohol, there are legitimate concerns about access to marijuana by youths. Our stores are an over-19, age-controlled environment and our industry has demonstrated the strongest compliance with identification checks," said Stephanie Smith, president of the BC Government and Service Employees' Union, which represents the province's 200 public liquor stores.

It would also be cost effective. Because liquor stores already have a warehousing and retail system in place "there is no need to reinvent the wheel," she said.

Last month, Warren "Smokey" Thomas, head of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents LCBO employees, said LCBO outlets would be ideal weed retailers because they already have "social responsibility" covered.

"They do age checks, they do refusals if somebody's intoxicated."

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger echoed those sentiments: "We would want any employee in one of our outlets to be well-trained, to be able to inform the public of any of the potential health risks or safety risks, and do it without consuming the products."

Understandably, existing cannabis vendors aren't stoked about the prospect of getting undermined by liquor stores.

"I think it's bad idea because that would cut us out," said Larry, a partner at Toronto Cannabis Dispensary who didn't want to give his last name.

"I don't think it would be a bad regulatory system if it went that way," he told VICE. "They're doing it with booze and they're doing a pretty good job, as long as they keep the quality and everything. But I don't want that to happen."


Larry said he already hears concerns about quality from people who get their weed from licensed producers, which would likely supply the legal market.

He said it's hard to say why, but thinks it's partially because the people managing large, 10,000-square-foot manufacturing houses aren't used to tending to so many plants.

The wisdom of selling drugs and alcohol in the same place has also been called into question.

Damian Kettlewell, spokesperson for non-medical marijuana for the BC Private Liquor Store Association, told VICE that employees are already trained not to sell alcohol to drunk people and a similar program will be rolled out for weed.

"We're going to be socially responsible," he said. "That would include not selling to intoxicated persons whether it be liquor or under the influence of marijuana."

Larry pointed out that in the Netherlands, weed and booze are sold separately.

"The two definitely don't go together, at least for me," he said.

Anyone who has had the spins would likely agree.

Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.