Task Force Against Co-Location of Cannabis with Alcohol

Provinces will Regulate Distribution & Retail Sale

The task force developing a framework for the legalization and regulation of cannabis submitted its final report and the recommendation that will jeopardize the chance of liquor stores selling cannabis is that cannabis not be located in a store selling liquor.

Minimizing Harms of Use

The task force took a public health approach to the regulation of cannabis, so they strove to minimize the harms associated with cannabis use. One risk they noted was associated with patterns of consumption including frequent use and co-use of cannabis with alcohol and tobacco.

They recommended a national minimum age of purchase of 18, acknowledging that provinces could harmonize it with their minimum age to purchase alcohol.

Comprehensive restrictions were suggested for the advertising and promotion of cannabis and related merchandise similar to those of tobacco products, but there could be limited promotion in areas accessible by adults.

Edible product should implement packaging with standardized, single servings, with a universal THC symbol. A maximum amount of THC per serving and per product should be set.

The task force recommended prohibiting mixed products, such as cannabis-infused alcoholic beverages or cannabis products with tobacco, nicotine or caffeine.

Of interest to employers, they suggested working with existing federal, provincial and territorial bodies to better understand potential occupational health and safety issues related to cannabis impairment, and developing workplace impairment policies.

Establishing a Safe and Responsible Supply Chain

The task force recommended regulating the production of cannabis and its derivatives at the federal level. They suggested implementing a seed-to-sale tracking system.

They recommended that the wholesale distribution of cannabis be regulated by provinces and territories and that retail sales be regulated by the provinces and territories in close collaboration with municipalities. They further recommended that the retail environment include:

  • No co-location of alcohol or tobacco and cannabis sales, wherever possible. When co-location cannot be avoided, appropriate safeguards must be put in place
  • Limits on the density and location of storefronts, including appropriate distance from schools, community centres, public parks, etc.
  • Dedicated storefronts with well-trained, knowledgeable staff
  • Access via a direct-to-consumer mail-order system

Alberta Liquor Store Association President Ivonne Martinez says, “We’re disappointed that, at the same time, the Task Force has come out against the co-location of cannabis with alcohol. Not only does this contradict the recommendation to allow provinces to decide, it ignores the solid track record Alberta’s private liquor retailers have earned when it comes to the responsible sale of controlled substances. Our members have rigorous training and stringent processes in place to ensure our product is sold safely, responsibly and legally.

Keeping recreational cannabis away from children will be critically important once it is legalized.

Our members have dutifully performed this role when it comes to alcohol for more than 20 years and are uniquely qualified to do the same with cannabis.

We thank the Task Force for their hard work over the last number of months. We will continue to work with both the federal and provincial governments to demonstrate our suitability to partner with them in the safe and responsible sale of recreational cannabis.”

Read the full report on the Government of Canada website.