Article by Mike Okada, Cannabis Life Network
The battle over who gets to sell cannabis in BC is on, and liquor stores are pushing hard to be the exclusive sellers of legal recreational cannabis- but prominent BC doctors and the majority of the cannabis industry are against them.
While the government has put the BC Liquor Distribution Branch in charge of wholesale distribution, the province also announced it will allow private and public sales of cannabis, and many assume that the retail system for cannabis will be similar to BC’s hybrid liquor model.
In BC’s hybrid liquor retail model, private and public liquor stores are competitors, but on the issue of cannabis, they are united and calling for a complete monopoly on retail sales.
Why liquor stores want a monopoly on recreational cannabis sales
Liquor stores want to be BC’s exclusive cannabis retailers so badly that ABLE BC (which represents BC’s private liquor industry) and the BCGEU (the union that represents BC Liquor workers) have joined forces to form the Responsible Marijuana Retail Alliance of BC.
Why? According to recent studies like Helping Settle the Marijuana and Alcohol Debate: Evidence from Scanner Data, states that legalized recreational cannabis saw a decrease in alcohol sales by 13% on average.
Liquor stores are trying to protect their market share and bottom line, and what better way to insure themselves against any potential loss in alcohol sales to cannabis than being the exclusive retailers of cannabis, too?
If that ends up happening, the liquor industry won’t have to worry about consumers substituting cannabis for alcohol because they get the sale either way.
Liquor stores claim they’re qualified to sell cannabis, but are they?
The executive director of BC’s private liquor association, Jeff Guignard, told Global News a few reasons why he thinks liquor stores are best suited for recreational cannabis sales, saying that employees are “already trained to ID people and are required to take the province’s Serving It Right program”.
But knowing how to ID people isn’t a particularly difficult or rare skill- just ask to see ID, like hundreds of convenience store clerks, waitresses, bartenders, and bouncers do every single day- and the Serving It Right program has almost nothing to do with cannabis (although, full disclosure, it does briefly mention the symptoms of mixing cannabis with alcohol on their website).