Alberta Liquor Store Association prepares for potential cannabis sales

By Claire Theobald

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to legalize recreational marijuana use, changes to legislation could take time. But the Alberta Liquor Store Association wants to be ready.

“We wanted to poll our members to see how they feel about the possibility of liquor stores selling a controlled substance like marijuana so that when the provincial government (begins discussions) here in Alberta, we can be at the table,” said Ivonne Martinez, president of the Alberta Liquor Store Association.

While Alberta’s finance minister said his comments earlier this month about selling marijuana in liquor stores were in jest, Martinez said the majority of Alberta liquor store owners she has talked to see it as viable.

“Some actually see the logic in it. Our stores are already selling a controlled substance in a responsible way,” Martinez said.

Some store owners have raised concerns about how law enforcement will address issues such as driving while high and what stance Alberta Health Services will take in addressing any negative health impacts from recreational marijuana use.

“We would want to hear a full picture before putting forward anything,” Martinez said.

While in provinces such as Ontario, regulation changes could be fairly easy because liquor stores are all under government control, Alberta’s liquor stores are privatized.

Martinez said the poll — expected to be completed by the end of April — will help the Alberta Liquor Store Association provide a united voice to protect the interests of liquor store owners when policies are eventually written.

“You have 1,400 different independently owned liquor stores, so the discussion would have to be with all of them,” Martinez said.

Martinez hopes his association can expedite the process of creating well-rounded policies in Alberta whenever the government is ready to implement them.

@ClaireTheobald
ctheobald@postmedia.com

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