Manitoba government's pot plan sticks public with costs, lets private investors reap profits

“Like with liquor sales, the public sale of marijuana would ensure a greater level of social responsibility while also ensuring revenue generated from the sales would go back into other public services such as health and education.” — Michelle Gawronsky, MGEU President

Winnipeg (10 Nov. 2017) — The Pallister government announced how it plans to sell legal marijuana products in Manitoba: private sellers will profit from sales, while the public sector will oversee distribution and regulation.

Manitobans want marijuana to be sold out of government-run stores

“This decision not only ignores the evidence that when it comes to public health and safety, selling cannabis through a public system is the way to go,” said Michelle Gawronsky, President of the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE). “It also ignores the wishes of Manitobans. Our recent polling shows 2 out of every 3 of us in this province believe marijuana should be sold in government-run stores.”

According to the government’s plan, the Manitoba Liquor and Gaming Authority will “regulate the purchase, storage, distribution and retail sale of cannabis,” while Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries will secure and track supply. The private sector will sell legal marijuana in stores that are not nearby places where alcohol is sold.

“In other words,” Gawronsky said, “their plan sticks the public sector with the costs and lets private investors take the profits.”

Instead of using revenue from marijuana sales for the public good, Pallister rewarding private interests

When the federal government announced they would be legalizing marijuana, the MGEU/NUPGE looked into the issue and submitted a position paper to the provincial government, outlining the proven benefits of going with a public system instead of private.

“Like with liquor sales, the public sale of marijuana would ensure a greater level of social responsibility,” Gawronsky said, “while also ensuring revenue generated from the sales would go back into other public services such as health and education.”

Based on research, the MGEU/NUPGE continues to advocate for the public sale of cannabis and has urged the government to adopt this model.

The decision also flies in the face of recommendations by other high profile groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD Canada), the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and the Chief Medical Officers of Canada who also advocate for a public retail sales system because of the evidence and research behind public sales.

“Knowing what we do, and after all the work we’ve done,” Gawronsky said, “it’s profoundly disappointing to learn the government is putting business interests ahead of the public interest.”


NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE

 

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