No, Ontario. You Don’t Want Weed to Be Sold in Liquor Stores

You say you do, but it's a terrible idea.
Manisha Krishnan
Toronto, CA
September 2, 2016, 6:38pm
Photo via Flickr user Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engineid Engine.

"I love getting booze exclusively from the LCBO, it's such a great system," said no one ever.

Yet somehow, the provincially-run liquor system Ontarians love to whine about is still their top pick for where they want recreational weed to be sold once it's legalized.

According to a Nanos Research poll, 41 percent of Ontarians are in favour of that option, followed by pharmacies at 32 percent and "privately owned marijuana stores" aka dispensaries at 17 percent.


One of the primary concerns appears to be keeping weed out of the hands of young people, with more than 85 per cent of Ontarians in favour of ID checks.

"People are clearly more comfortable with restricting marijuana sales to spaces that aren't frequented by children," said Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) President Warren (Smokey) Thomas in a press release, while OPSEU Liquor Board Employees Divisional Executive Chair Denise Davis said, "We have a system that we know prevents minors from buying alcohol. Why reinvent the wheel when the risks are so great?"

Honestly, how much skill does it take to check someone's date of birth and make sure they're of legal age? Convenience stores manage to sell smokes to adults just fine. Anyone who's completed grade school math can manage it. There are, however, legit reasons why selling weed at liquor stores is a terrible idea. Here are a few:

Poor selection
Medical marijuana patients have already complained about the lack of selection available through licensed producers, citing poor genetic diversity, and a complete dearth of edibles and extracts as a couple of the major issues. The LCBOs are bound to be more of the same. Weed is experiencing a golden era right now—there are even craft growers—but just like you're never going to find a rare bottle of Pappy van Winkle at the LCBO, you can assume they won't carry exclusive strains like God's Vagina 2.0 or Afghani Bullrider, let alone the many other forms of THC, including treats, oils, tinctures, pills, and concentrates. Unless you want to be limited to smoking the Molson's of weed, the LCBO is not a great option.

Don't expect to see crazy shit at the LCBO. Photo by Manisha Krishnan

LCBO employees don't know shit about weed right now
Chances are the freshman university student who works at the LCBO on the weekend and still smokes from a gravity bong doesn't know all that much about weed—and he's probably the most knowledgeable employee there. The fact is, whether it's legal or not, the cannabis industry is already massive, and full of people who can do a lot more than just differentiate between and indica and a sativa. They can tell you exactly what you need to treat pain, sleep better, feel less anxiety, increase a low appetite, be creative, or just get really fucking high. You've pretty much got to go into the LCBO knowing what you're looking for, which works out OK for alcohol. But when we're talking about a brand new substance that most people know very little about, a level of expertise beyond knowing how to handle cash and check IDs is necessary. They can claim they are going to train their employees all the want, but government employees are never going to have the savvy that passionate cannafolk have.

The hours suck
Anyone who has experienced the pain of desperately Ubering to a Wine Rack before a house party because it's the only thing open at 10 PM knows what I'm talking about. This isn't as big of an issue in provinces where there are private liquor stores—like BC and Alberta—but unfortunately those options don't exist here in Puritan Ontario. On the other hand, we do have drug dealers who tend to be more flexible. Locking up weed in the LCBO, with its rigid schedule, is probably the same as giving money to the black market.

Weed and liquor don't mix
Smoking a joint once you've been drinking is a great recipe for barfing all night. I've little doubt that selling the two substances together will encourage people to mix them. Sure, you may be heading to the LCBO to pick up a six-pack, but why not get some chronic there too if it's there. Even people who know better (like me) would probably be tempted to buy both if it was that convenient. As we all know, once you start drinking you make stupid decisions, which could result in a lot of people with the spins on a Friday night.

It's not really fair
This is more of a moral argument, but the entire legalization movement was basically built on the backs of medical marijuana patients—people who sued the government time and time again on the grounds that their access to medication was being illegally restricted. To now turn around and let the government have complete control of a market that they contributed nothing to just seems really unfair.

One explanation for the way Ontarians voted in this poll is that more than 83 percent reported never consuming marijuana. Hopefully people who actually know what they are talking about will have a bigger say once it's time to make real decisions.

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