Oct 102018
 

Reprinted from the Lakefield Herald (Oct 5, 2018)

Cannabis Discussed in Trent Lakes

BY TERRY GILLIS

During the September 18 Trent Lakes council meeting, under New Business on the agenda, Councillor Raymond advised that at the October 2, 2018 Council meeting he will be placing a motion that Council directs staff to collect and review information pertaining to new legislation, regulations and implementation regarding cannabis and provide the 2018-2022 Council with a detailed report which will also include comments from the County, neighbouring municipalities, OPP, emergency services and the building and planning department.

With the legalization of cannabis only two weeks away, provinces, and inadvertently, municipalities are scrambling to get their legislation and sales venues in order.

The Ontario government has confirmed it will introduce legislation to allow private sector retail sale of recreational cannabis by April 1, 2019.

According to The Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO) the province will operate a licensing system for private cannabis retailers centrally to standardize rules for applications and administration.

Municipalities are raising concerns over how cannabis sales will be regulated and who will be responsible for the added policing and other costs. Trent Lakes already has concerns about their OPP expenses.

The provincial government announced last week that municipalities that opt-out of cannabis retail stores could allow them in the future, but municipalities that do not opt-out of stores by January 22nd, cannot opt-out of them at a later date.

Following the reading of his motion on October 2, Councillor Raymond said that the reason he is suggesting a report be put together is because “the new council, whoever forms the new council, is going to have to make a decision pretty quick.” He commented that the decision will have to be for opting in or out by January 22.  Raymond continued by saying that the new council “will likely not have much time to solicit input from the public.”

The government is introducing legislation which, if enacted, would create a tightly regulated licensing model and regulatory framework for private retail of cannabis in Ontario.

In this new model:

• Private retailers would be licensed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO)

• The Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC) would be the exclusive wholesaler and online retailer of cannabis in the province

• Municipalities would be able to pass a council resolution by January 22, 2019 to opt-out of retail stores

• First Nation communities would be able to opt-out of cannabis deliveries and retail stores

Proposed legislation, if enacted, would support this direction with the intent of enabling the AGCO to begin to accept applications in December 2018.

So far, two major Ontario cities, Markham and Richmond Hill, aren’t waiting until the deadline and have already rejected hosting retail cannabis stores.

AMO also confirmed that Ontario (one of only two provinces so far) has committed to sharing the federal cannabis excise tax with municipalities to make sure local governments across the province can manage the transition to legal recreational cannabis. This is critical in both the transition period and longer-term, to protect and support youth, residents and communities. What was not made clear was whether all municipalities will receive a share of the excise tax, or only those who opt-in.

While the province promised to provide $40 million over two years to help municipalities with the costs of recreational cannabis legalization, there are other issues that may not be factored into the costs. Some municipalities have expressed concerns surrounding homegrown cannabis and the affect it may have on local water treatment systems or waste disposal.

For local government, when it comes to recreational pot, there are still a number of uncertainties and questions that haven’t even been thought of yet.

As for Councillor Raymond’s motion, it was unanimously approved.