The Pallister government announced today 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.

“This decision not only ignores the evidence that when it comes to public health and safety, selling cannibas through a public system is the way to go,” said MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky. “It also ignores the wishes of Manitobans. Our recent polling shows two out of every three 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.”

When the federal government announced they would be legalizing marijuana, the MGEU 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 continues to advocate for the public sale of cannabis and has urged the government to adopt this model.

Today’s 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.”