Doug Ford’s private cannabis stores a complete failure says Ontario union official, echoing nearly everyone’s complete lack of surprise
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union put out a scathing statement critical of Doug Ford’s government in Ontario, calling the premier’s plan to privatize the cannabis industry in Ontario “incompetent.” OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas referred to the situation as the 'Conservative cannabis cockup,' in a statement released last week, once again calling on Ford to provide the city with a public option.
As reported earlier this year, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario under the direction of the newly elected conservative government concocted a scheme to limit the number of private cannabis licenses to 25. In January they held a poorly conceived lottery, giving away Ontario’s cannabis industry to unknown, inexperienced entrepreneurs while allowing better-funded groups to fall by the wayside.
Now, unsurprisingly, many of those stores have been unable to open for business by the city’s April 30 deadline, forcing the AGCO to impose financial penalties — in some cases reneging on a $50,000 line of credit provided to each winner.
"If the premier had stuck to the previous government's plan to leave cannabis sales in the hands of the LCBO, we would have had dozens of stores open last fall," Thomas said in his statement. "Instead we have a bunch of fly by night operators who are totally unreliable, picked through some half baked lottery."
According to their statement, OPSEU called for a public option last year, with polling data supporting their efforts. At the time, experts braced themselves for a possible worst-case scenario situation all-around, something that seems to have come to fruition.
“They instituted 25 store policy [and] now people are saying that they kiboshed legalization which, maybe it is a political thing that they're trying to do to like get to Trudeau or something or cause a little bit of chaos,” Christian Borys, creator of the documentary series “The Cannabis Complex” told PotNetwork News at the time. An expert in Canadian cannabis, Borys has been documenting the rise of legal cannabis and the last days of prohibition in Canada.
“I don't know, I'm not on [Doug] Ford’s team,” he continued. “I have no idea what's going on there. I know that the rollout of the Ontario cannabis store website was a shit show. I know that private retail so far has been a shitshow.”
Borys went on to further explain that in a province with over 2 million cannabis consumers, it should be evident that 25 stores would be nowhere near enough to serve everyone’s needs.
In the meantime, as for Thomas and OPSEU, they have renewed their calls for a public option, going so far as to demand that Ford abandon the current plan.
"I wonder what's next?" Thomas said in his statement. "Will the premier start scouring Etobicoke strip malls to see if he can find some of his friends from the old days to take over some of these cannabis licenses? Or worse is he purposely supporting underground market activity?"
"This is why Ontarians should loudly demand a responsible cannabis plan and just say no to Doug's," he continued.