Widespread support for Ontario's plan to keep cannabis sales public

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The Ontario government has decided to keep cannabis sales public, drawing praise from business owners, public policy experts, non-profits such as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, and labour leaders.

“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," said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas after the government's announcement. "This is a prudent plan that we’ve worked hard to promote in conversations with our communities, with the cannabis industry, and with government.”

Thomas told the National Post he's proud of the role he and his union played in convincing the government to keep canabis sales public. “I’m pretty pleased with what the plan looks like so far,” he said. “I’ve been lobbying the government for a long time on this, so I like to think we had some influence.”

Thomas isn't the only one pleased with the decision -- business owners are also singing its praises.

The president of one of the country's largest licensed cannabis growers told the Huffinton Post that he's "very supportive" of the plan. "It means we are moving even faster" to expand facilities, said Canopy Growth President Mark Zekulin.

The head of another producer of said the public sector has a proven track record with the socially responsible sales.

"There is a lot of experience at the LCBO," said OrganiGram Holdings CEO Greg Engel, told the Huffington Post.

Many other organizations also responded positively to the announcement. The Ottawa Sun compiled some of the reaction, including:

  • The Canadian Cancer Society: "We support the proposed measures around protection and prevention in the Cannabis Framework and specifically the prohibiting of smoking cannabis in all work and public places, regulations regarding where cannabis can be sold, and the need for a public education campaign."
  • LCBO: "Today’s decision is a testament to the skill and talent our employees bring to their jobs every day and our reputation as an organization that is trusted by Ontarians for responsible retailing and actions that support moderate consumption.”
  • MADD Canada: “We support [a] sales model similar to the LCBO because of the controls on it, making sure it doesn’t get to people who are underage, making sure the quality is there. We consider the similar model to the LCBO to be the best route to go.”
  • Addictions and Mental Health Ontario: “Ontario’s approach is on the right track. It focuses on public health and reducing the known harms surrounding cannabis, especially for youth."
  • Ontario Public Health Association: “Important elements we are encouraged to see include having a separate government-owned and controlled retail system and an awareness campaign on the harms of cannabis. Intentions to reinvest revenues into activities that will protect and support public health, especially young people, and promoting community safety, prevention and harm reduction are also viewed favourably by our association."