Monopolizing cannabis sales in Ontario the wrong move
QUEEN’S PARK – The Green Party of Ontario remains opposed to the government’s monopoly on the retailing of cannabis.
GPO Leader Mike Schreiner says it doesn’t make sense to have the government owned-and-operated LCBO set up a whole new retailing operation with the exclusive right to sell cannabis once it becomes legal next July.
“There is a better way – highly regulating and licensing local businesses, local farmers, and Indigenous entrepreneurial groups who will create local jobs and contribute tax dollars to local communities across the province,” said Schreiner. “It’s obvious that opening only 40 LCBO-run stores in all of Ontario next year to retail cannabis will do virtually nothing to address the huge, illegal underground market. Instead of trying to drive existing dispensaries out of business, the government should allow them to apply to become legal – and heavily regulated – retailers of cannabis.”
If the Liberals insist on moving forward with their monopolization plan, the GPO is calling on the government to conduct a pilot project to test the private retailing of cannabis by small businesses alongside the LCBO’s new stores during the first two years of legalization.
“Local businesses create the vast majority of new jobs in Ontario and cultivate vibrant, creative communities. Why do the Liberals refuse to support local businesses in favour of a government run marijuana monopoly?” asked Schreiner.
“Government’s role should be to license and regulate local companies, not to criminalize them and legislate them out of business.”
The GPO believes the Liberals’ plan to open a maximum of 150 LCBO-run cannabis stores across the province will not be enough to meet demand or combat the underground market.
“The government’s plan is likely to result in unsafe, unregulated cannabis to still be available on the underground market,” warned Schreiner.
The GPO supports giving municipalities a share of the new federal tax on cannabis, and wants other tax revenues from cannabis used to fund education, mental health and addiction programs.
Read Schreiner’s open letter to Ontario cabinet ministers at gpo.ca/stop-monopolization-marijuana
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