Nova Scotia defends decision to sell cannabis in liquor stores

Published: July 27, 2018

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Nova Scotia’s decision to sell cannabis in existing liquor stores when marijuana legalization is finalized in October has drawn controversy. The province has now defended its retail scheme, which is unique in Canada.

While critics have said selling marijuana in liquor stores could lead to a public health problem, Justice Minister Mark Furey insists the model is good. He also says the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC) has a good history of regulating products. He says the retail decision was taken after consulting with the federal marijuana panel.

Starting Oct. 17, 12 cannabis stores will be opened in current NSLC liquor stores around Nova Scotia.

“We have full confidence in the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation’s ability to retail a regulated product,” said Furey. “Cannabis is co-located but it is very separate from the alcohol elements.”

“I think the next 12 months is going to be an important period in the evaluation and assessment in the model we’ve advanced,” Furey added.

Among the critics of the plans is Simon Sherry of Dalhousie University. On Wednesday, Sherry said there is a reason why other provinces have decided not to combine cannabis and liquor sales in one location.

He says there are three reasons why the introduction in Nova Scotia is a bad idea. Some cannabis users may have an existing alcohol problem and are trying to avoid liquor stores. Also, some customers in a liquor store may not be previously interest in marijuana but may be tempted to try it. Lastly, it clearly promotes co-consumption of alcohol and cannabis.

“There are good reasons why other jurisdictions have decided against co-location. It’s just not a good idea,” he said.