Pubdate: Mon, 30 Oct 2017
Source: Northern News (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Northern News
Author: Brad Sherratt
Page: A1


KL municipal officials have mixed views on proposed Crown corporation
to manage marijuana sales in Ontario

KIRKLAND LAKE - The province's proposal to create a Crown corporation
to manage the sale of marijuana in Ontario has received a mixed review
from Kirkland Lake's top elected municipal officials.

Ontario Minister of Finance has written a letter to mayors and
councillors across the province in regards to cannabis

In the letter Charles Sousa states "our government is proposing to
retail cannabis through a government-operated Crown Corporation, as a
subsidiary of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). This
approach would meet the standards of control and social responsibility
that Ontarians expect, while responding to consumer demand and
displacing the illegal market."

He added "under the proposed approach, the retail and distribution
system would include an online province-wide sales channel by July
2018 and up to 150 stand-alone stores by the end of 2020, starting
with 40 by July 2018 and rising to 80 within the first year. This
proposed retail system would sell cannabis and cannabis-related items
only, not alcohol. Our proposed approach is to build on the expertise
and back-office capabilities of the LCBO to set up the Crown
Corporation. Our priority is to reduce the illegal market by building
on our strengths to create an efficient and secure system for people
across the province.

Kirkland Lake Councillor Pat Kiely says the plan doesn't do much for

"Obviously the province sees the opportunity to increase their tax
revenues, at this point I do not see any financial sharing with the
municipalities," he said. "I do see the need to legalize certain
medical usages of cannabis as a carefully controlled substance as
their is documented proof of the medical benefits in many cases. "My
biggest fear is the recreational use application of the laws
especially in the areas of DUI. What we have seen in Colorado is like
the old wild west. The state moved so quickly in legalization without
being full prepared for the onslaught of petty crimes and DUI
occurrences. I hope the Province has learned from this and are fully
prepared for the on slot of dealing with the social problems that come
with these changes. I would also like to see that old records of
possession be wiped off previous offenses as they were left with
criminal records."

Earlier this year, Mayor Tony Antoniazzi stated the province "has
taken, the right, first steps," and called it "a sensible and cautious

Antoniazzi added "I am pleased that municipalities will not be
responsible for the licensing of outlets."

Souzaa said municipalities have a role to play in the

"Our government acknowledges that municipalities are critical partners
in provincial efforts to retail and distribute cannabis in communities
across the province. We recognize that many municipalities have
questions regarding the legal retail and distribution of cannabis and
how municipalities will be involved going forward.

"Since the announcement on September 8th, staff from the Ministry of
Finance, Ministry of the Attorney General, Ministry of Municipal
Affairs, and other partner ministries have engaged with municipalities
through the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) on topics
of interest to municipalities, including the retail model, enforcement
and places of use. The input received to date has been valuable to
informing the continued development of our approach and we look
forward to ongoing discussions.

"As we move forward with preparations to implement the proposed retail
and distribution system, Ministry of Finance staff, together with the
LCBO, will begin direct engagement with municipalities on how stores
may be located for July 2018. We are proposing that the LCBO partner
with impacted municipalities in advance of launch to ensure that input
from municipalities can be provided directly to the LCBO and local
community interests can be heard."

"To ensure Ontario's readiness for the federal government's deadline
of July 2018, Ministry of Finance and the LCBO have begun identifying
municipalities under consideration for initial stores. Municipalities
will be identified in stages. This will support ongoing engagement
with municipal staff in these affected municipalities and phase
efforts to search for store sites.

"Two primary considerations will be used to guide the identification
of municipalities where stores will be located: first, to achieve
geographic distribution of stores across the province; and second, to
reduce the number of illegal stores, including dispensaries, currently
operating in Ontario.

"As municipalities are identified, letters from the Ministry of
Finance will be sent to the municipal Clerk or CAO of each identified
municipality. Ministry of Finance staff will also work to notify Heads
of Councils in identified municipalities in advance of these letters
and will work with these municipalities to continue an open dialogue
to ensure that council's perspectives are considered. The letters will
request meetings between municipal staff, Ministry of Finance staff
and the LCBO to discuss the guidelines and a process for siting
stores, how the LCBO will address local concerns, and municipal
interests in siting. This will serve as the beginning of the
partnership between municipalities and LCBO. Municipalities selected
for initial stores will also be transparently identified on a website
maintained by the LCBO. This website will be updated in coming weeks
as the first group of letters are sent to the municipal Clerks/CAO's
notifying them the LCBO intends to locate! an initial store in their
municipality. The LCBO will continue to update this website on a
regular basis as additional municipalities are notified of the
intention to locate stores in their municipality.
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MAP posted-by: Matt