Pubdate: Thu, 21 Sep 2017
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Toronto Star
Author: Julien Arsenault
Page: 22


Couche-Tard co-founder says it's a 'shame' Quebec won't even talk to
them about sales

LAVAL, QUE.- Alimentation CoucheTard is still interested in selling
marijuana, and its co-founder says he thinks provincial governments
should stay out of selling this product.

Alain Bouchard, the executive chairperson of the Quebec-based chain of
convenience stores, says Crown corporations getting involved in
cannabis sales is a step backward after it becomes legal next year.

Couche-Tard would like to sell cannabis in some of the more than 2,000
stores it operates in Canada.

The Quebec government is still weighing how the product will be sold
in the province, as the federal government has committed to legalizing
marijuana as of July 2018.

For the moment, some provinces are in favour of overseeing the sale of
cannabis. The Ontario government announced earlier this month its plan
to open at least 150 dedicated marijuana stores run by the province's
liquor control board, but Quebec hasn't decided on private-sector
involvement. New Brunswick has also announced a Crown corporation will
be created to oversee the sale of cannabis.

Couche-Tard even hired a lobbyist to work on ensuring it is involved
in the cannabis-distribution system Quebec will eventually set up, but
Bouchard says the provincial government has given the company the cold

"They do not even want to talk to us, so I think it is a shame,"
Bouchard said Tuesday, on the sidelines of the multinational company's
annual meeting in Laval, Que.

"We have the ability to sell this product while meeting all government
requirements (and) we can train our staff on verifying the identity of
all consumers, regardless of their age."

The businessman said employees of the company's convenience stores are
already selling lottery tickets, beer and tobacco.

Bouchard, known for his strong opposition toward government incursions
into the retail sector, has repeatedly criticized the Quebec Liquor
Corp. for its monopoly.

"I think it is a step backwards when we turn to Crown corporations to
sell a product that we have decided to legalize," Bouchard said.
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MAP posted-by: Matt