Public sale of cannabis best for public health

The Government should protect public health and keep the sale and distribution of cannabis under public control concludes a report commissioned by the Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union (NSGEU).

“We have an opportunity to get this right,” says Jason MacLean, President of the NSGEU. “As the Premier and his government consider what the legalization of cannabis will look like in Nova Scotia and how cannabis should be sold, our research is clear that a publicly controlled retailing system best protects the public, including our children, from unnecessary harm associated with cannabis.”

The report, titled “Cannabis distribution in Canada: A literature review of policy options and potential implications for public health” was sent to the government for their consideration last week. See report here:

“To maximize monetary gain for the cannabis industry, a privatized system would be ideal. To protect and promote the health and well-being of Canadian communities, a publicly owned system is the optimal solution according to public health literature.” Pg. 16.

The report also finds that public health can best be protected when implemented alongside other key regulatory factors such as:

  • High minimum age restrictions;
  • Comprehensive marketing restrictions similar to tobacco control mechanisms;
  • Health-focused taxation and pricing;
  • Product restrictions (i.e., prohibiting products with a high concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol; THC);
  • Restrictions on retail outlet location, design, and density.

“Nova Scotians all have a vested interest in protecting the health and well-being of our communities and children and the time for making a decision on how cannabis is sold is rapidly approaching,” said MacLean. “The best approach is to keep it public.”

The literature review is consistent with a CRA survey the NSGEU conducted in March, 2017 which found that 64% of Nova Scotians believe cannabis should be sold in stores owned and regulated by government.

The literature review was conducted by Julie McEachern, BA (Hons), MSc, who specializes in public health research.


The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union represents over 30,000 women and men who provide quality public services Nova Scotians count on every day.

For more information, please contact:

Deedee Slye, Communications Officer


Lucas Wide, Communications Officer


NSGEU Communications Office

902-424-4063 (office) 877-556.7438 (toll free)

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