Alberta liquor stores ponder selling marijuana alongside alcohol

Finance minister’s ‘joke’ not actually out of the realm of possibility, association says

l1-620-marijuana-plant-cp-i.jpgMarijuana could be sold in Alberta liquor stores once it's legalized.

After Joe Ceci told a roomful of rural politicians that Alberta’s liquor stores could sell pot if was ever legalized by the federal government, the provincial finance minister quickly had to clarify that his comment was a joke.

But as it turns out, Ceci wasn’t that far off the mark.

Members of the Alberta Liquor Store Association are currently doing a survey on the idea of selling marijuana in stores.

“We’re going to our membership to see first of all, is this a good fit for our stores?” said association president Ivonne Martinez.

“Do you think we can do the selling of this controlled substance in a responsible way, much like we do with liquor products? Just to get a sense from them whether this brings any concerns in terms of social responsibility.”

Alberta is the only province with a fully privatized liquor store retail system, which means that the way it handles selling marijuana in-store — should that end up happening — will be different from places like Ontario.

But she said selling pot alongside liquor would make sense.

“When the government starts looking at infrastructure that’s already in place, liquor stores and [the] delivery system here in Alberta, is an obvious choice,” Martinez told the Eyeopener.

Safety concerns

Association members are eager to hear what policing agencies have to say about combining marijuana and alcohol in the same store.

“For a lot of our liquor stores right now, especially those that are clustered together in some of the municipalities that don’t have distance bylaws, what we hear from police services is that it causes issues within the communities — whether its theft, underage drinking or people at risk,” Martinez said.

Martzinez said the association wants to be prepared to share its perspective and research.

“We don’t know what the federal government is going to do but when we hear from them, and the provinces too start to talk about how to sell this substance, we want to be ready.”

In addition to hearing from police, the association is seeking input from Alberta Health Services.

“We’ll put that into the whole pot — no pun intended — of information and hopefully put together a preliminary position to have at least for the fall,” Martinez said.





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