TORONTO – The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) is congratulating the provincial Liberal government for its decision to sell recreational cannabis in government-run retail stores.
“Today’s announcement is what we have been calling for since the legalization debate began,” OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said. “We have said from the start that the way to limit social harm from the sale of cannabis is through the successful model of public control that the LCBO has been using for 90 years. This is a prudent plan that we’ve worked hard to promote in conversations with our communities, with the cannabis industry, and with government. It’s good to know our elected leaders were listening.”
The province says it will open 150 stand-alone cannabis stores, operated by the LCBO, by 2020.
“We proposed the creation of a Liquor and Cannabis Control Board of Ontario, or ‘LCCBO,’ back in April,” Thomas said. “Whatever they end up calling it, it’s the right model.”
The new retail system will be popular with Ontarians, he predicted.
“In a Nanos Research poll we commissioned in the summer of 2016, Ontarians picked the LCBO as their number one choice to sell cannabis,” he said. “People recognize that the best way to keep minors from purchasing cannabis is to control its sale through the LCBO. It’s also the best way to ensure product safety, through LCBO labs, and it’s the best way to keep the criminal element out of the cannabis business.”
Under the terms of the collective agreement negotiated between the LCBO and OPSEU earlier this year, frontline cannabis retail staff will be OPSEU members.
“An important side benefit to today’s announcement is that it means good union jobs that will promote the culture of safety and integrity that people appreciate in the LCBO,” Thomas said. “There is no downside to today’s announcement. It’s a model that we encourage other provinces to emulate.”