In a letter to the editor appearing in the Chronicle Herald on July 24, 2018, Dr. Simon Sherry asserts selling cannabis in liquor stores is a public health risk.
Re: “Outlets nearly ready to spark up sales” (July 19 story). NSLC president and CEO Bret Mitchell recently described Nova Scotia’s co-location of cannabis and alcohol sales in favourable terms: “We have a very unique situation here.”
But selling cannabis in liquor stores is a public health risk, not a point of pride. Three problems arise from selling cannabis along with alcohol. First, some cannabis users want to avoid liquor stores because they have a problem with alcohol. Second, about 75 per cent of Nova Scotians drink alcohol but only about 15 per cent of Nova Scotians use cannabis. Selling cannabis in liquor stores means Nova Scotians who might not otherwise use cannabis are more likely to see cannabis advertising and to use cannabis products. Third, selling cannabis and alcohol together encourages consuming cannabis and alcohol together. And consuming cannabis and alcohol together is harmful, including a greater risk of work, school, health, driving and relationship problems.
Mitchell noted co-location of cannabis and alcohol sales “hasn’t been done to my knowledge anywhere else in the world,” and with good reason. Nova Scotia already exceeds every other province in terms of percentage of cannabis users, percentage of cannabis-use disorders and grams of cannabis smoked per person. By carelessly co-locating cannabis and alcohol sales, the health of even more Nova Scotians will go up in smoke.
Dr. Simon B. Sherry, professor, department of psychology & neuroscience, Dalhousie University