Ottawa – OPSEU will be at the annual conference of the Association of Ontario Municipalities (AMO) today, giving hundreds of municipal politicians and leaders the chance to demand Doug Ford rethink his knee-jerk decree that cannabis will only be sold in profit-driven private stores.
“Private-only cannabis sales will be a financial and public-health mess. And the rookie premier is pretty much telling community leaders that they’re the ones who will have to clean it up,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.
“We’re already seeing leaders like Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson speak up for public cannabis sales,” said Thomas. “We’re going to make sure the premier hears from the hundreds of other community leaders who also want public cannabis sales.”
During and after an AMO conference session this morning on “Cannabis and Communities,” OPSEU activists will be gathering petition signatures from municipal leaders opposed to Ford’s private-only approach to cannabis retail sales. They will also be distributing a motion that municipal councillors can use to officially demand a public cannabis-sales option.
Along with the municipal leaders, a number of public health organizations are already on the record supporting a largely or completely public system of cannabis retail sales. And now privacy experts are adding their voices to the growing concerns about Ford’s cannabis plan, suggesting cannabis buyers won’t trust their personal information to online sales and will continue to use the black market instead.
For many municipal leaders, however, the main concern remains money.
“Privatization looks good to the premier because he won’t have to pay for public stores,” said OPSEU First Vice-President / Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “But as OPSEU’s treasurer, I know that nothing in life is free. Somebody’s going to have to pay for the regulation and enforcement of private retail outlets, and municipalities are going to get stuck with the bill.”
But Thomas is confident municipal leaders will convince the premier to reverse course.
“This is a classic case of ‘ready, fire, aim,’” said Thomas. “The rookie premier made a huge mistake when he refused to consult with anybody other than political insiders with a personal stake in the industry before deciding that cannabis will only be sold in profit-driven private storefronts.
“We’re going to make sure he knows that community leaders from Kenora to Cornwall want him to fix this mistake, and fix it now.”
For more information: Warren (Smokey) Thomas, 613-329-1931