Pubdate: Thu, 19 Oct 2017
Source: Packet & Times (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Orillia Packet and Times
Author: Patrick Bales
Page: A3


City staff responds to inquiries about medical marijuana

Don't expect a bylaw to ban medical marijuana dispensaries in downtown
Orillia anytime soon. It isn't necessary, according to city staff.

"While we wait for the federal government and the provincial
government to regulate how and where and when marijuana will be made
available ... leave the city's zoning bylaw as is," Ian Sugden,
director of development services and engineering, said at this week's
council committee meeting. "It would be a redundant regulation to
create a prohibition for a use that is illegal."

In late August, the Downtown Orillia Management Board passed a
resolution calling on council to follow the lead of the City of
Toronto and restrict medical marijuana dispensaries to operate only in
industrial areas.

"BIAs in other cities have reported negative experiences associated
with medical marijuana shops in their core from illegal selling to
those smoking on the street to harassment of nearby business owners
and BIA staff," board manager Lisa Thomson-Roop wrote in a letter to
council. "The board believes that this temporary zoning measure will
protect the current established businesses from the ill effects of
having such a facility on the main street until such a time as the
provincial and federal governments provide legislation regulating the
sale of marijuana."

Staff examined what Toronto did in 2014 and found it to be different
from what the Orillia merchants requested. At that time, Toronto
created a new definition of "medical marijuana production facility."
That bylaw limits the industrial-style facilities where the medical
marijuana is grown, sorted and tested to areas populated by factories
as opposed to small businesses.

"Those are not dispensaries," Sugden told councillors. "Dispensaries
are the sort of storefront-type operations everybody has seen on the
news in various communities. Sometimes called 'compassion clubs,'
those are illegal uses."

If those illegal uses were to spring up in Orillia, they will be taken
care of by the Orillia OPP, he added. Dispensaries will remain illegal
in Ontario for the foreseeable future, the report to council committee
confirmed, stated by Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi in a recent
conference call with a number of municipalities on the future of
marijuana legislation.

Coun. Ralph Cipolla still wondered what the city could do to ensure
medical marijuanawas distributed by trained professionals.

"Is there any way we can legislate that medical marijuana should be
distributed by pharmacies, or the hospital, rather than independent,
individual outlets?" he asked. "Medical marijuana, I agree, is totally
necessary for some people, and that's great. I don't think it should
be sold on the street."

Staff suggested it's best to hold out until the upper tiers of
government each bring legislation forward.

The staff report also touched briefly on the legal sale of
recreational marijuana, expected to begin in 2018. At this time, the
province is expected to be the sole retailer of marijuana, in a
similar scenario at with liquor sales at the LCBO.

While the city does retain control on building and development through
a zoning bylaw, the province would be technically exempt from
municipal zoning controls.
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