Council requests staff report ahead of cannabis legalization

(Gazette file photo)



With cannabis set to become this century’s answer to alcohol, Prince Edward County council wants to know the exact lay of the land prior to marijuana legalization on Oct. 17.

At the committee-of-the-whole meeting on Thursday,  Gord Fox brought forth a motion on  behalf of fellow councillor Bill Roberts directing municipal staff to provide a report with recommendations as it relates to the sale of cannabis in retail outlets and a possible one-time window opportunity in which the municipality can choose to opt out of permitting physical cannabis retail stores within Prince Edward County.

Roberts was in Cornwall on Thursday attending the Ontario East Municipal Conference but in his request submitted by Fox, Roberts spoke to several implications and possible frameworks for municipal regulations that have been previously identified by the Association of Ontario Municipalities.

It’s surmised by the organization that public safety and enforcement, public health, licensing and planning/zoning, tax revenue and other local economic benefits are all points to consider ahead of charting a course.

Some municipalities including Oakville, Markham and Richmond Hill have already announced they will be opting out of legal cannabis sales in their regions.

“In sum, with just weeks before the legalization of cannabis for recreational use takes effect across Canada, responsible municipalities are understandably concerned with how cannabis sales will be distributed and regulated and who foots the bill for added policing and other costs,” Roberts wrote.

The report Roberts is requesting for the horseshoe is how council can best engage this public policy matter, establish the facts and parameters of the file and make recommendations on such aspects as appropriate, timely public consolation.

As it was a request for a report from staff, there wasn’t a plethora of comment from council members after the motion was read but Fox mentioned AMO had explicitly told its members there would be impact on Ontario’s municipalities if and when they decided to allow cannabis sales in their region.

“The municipality has already taken some action ahead of the legislation in that we have updated our smoking bylaws and the fire department has updated their procedures to deal with illegal grow ops,” Fox said. “Our staff are already working on this but there’s so much more involved in this matter.”

A hard date and the process for municipalities to opt in or opt out of permitting legal retail cannabis sales for recreational use has not be announced the province although its expected to be announced in the coming weeks.