Pubdate: Sat, 04 Nov 2017
Source: Windsor Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Windsor Star
Author: Doug Schmidt
Page: A3


Marijuana activist predicts high demand with American tourist among

Windsor will be among the first cities in Ontario to host a cannabis
store once pot is legalized next summer.

The province on Friday identified the first 14 communities that will
operate stand-alone outlets for recreational pot sales by July 2018.
The Wynne Liberals announced in September that the LCBO will oversee
40 such retail locations across Ontario by the projected legalization
date set by Ottawa.

"It's going to get nuts," local cannabis activist Jon Liedtke predicts
if Windsor and Essex County end up sharing only one such retail outlet.

Aside from the local market, Liedtke anticipates "huge" additional
demand from American pot tourists crossing the border to try out
what's popular but illegal at home.

And regardless of where that retail outlet is located, "You won't be
able to get there," said Liedtke. Customer lineups and traffic will be
heavy, he predicts.

Over the coming weeks, staff from the Ministry of Finance and LCBO
will meet with staff at the identified municipalities to discuss
guidelines and the process for siting stores.

Once a specific proposed retail location is identified, "the public
will have the opportunity to submit questions and comments on the
intended site before it is confirmed," according to Friday's
announcement by the LCBO.

London is the next-closest city to Windsor on the initial list of 14
host municipalities.

One of the province's objectives is the protection of youth by
ensuring pot stores are not located close to schools. The stand-alone
stores are intended to provide access within communities, while also
addressing the illegal market for what will remain a tightly regulated
product restricted to consumers 19 years and older. While operated by
LCBO staff, there will be no pot sales at existing LCBO liquor outlets.

Some are already predicting a "mess" with Ontario's reefer

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak, the NDP's community safety and corrections
critic, called Wynne's cannabis bill and the Liberals' pot plan for
Ontario "a really disappointing package" that leaves more questions
than answers.

For one, the proposed 40 retail locations "cannot possibly serve the
demand in a province the size of Ontario," said Natyshak. By failing
to locate retail outlets in some cities, and leaving urban centres
underserved, "her plan won't put a dent in organized crime or stop the
flow of unregulated cannabis to the market."

Liedtke points to the province's more than 1,000 LCBO and Beer Store
outlets, in addition to wineries and breweries and agency stores, plus
licensed restaurants, bars and other establishments set up to serve

"You've got tens of thousands of purchase points for alcohol versus 40
for cannabis," he said.

With the coming legalization of recreational pot, but with so few
retail outlets planned, "the province is creating more incentive for
the black market because it's creating huge new demand for cannabis,"
said Liedtke, a medical cannabis user and co-owner of Higher Limits
Cannabis Lounge in downtown Windsor.

Part of the Ontario plan is to also provide access to recreational
marijuana through an online channel, but Liedtke said pot users he
knows won't be keen on having to first register with the government
and submit personal information.

When it comes to local economic impact alone, it likely doesn't matter
where Windsor's single pot store goes, said Downtown Windsor Business
Improvement chairman Larry Horwitz.

"Whether it's located in the downtown or not, it's going to have a
huge effect on the downtown," he said. His prediction is tourism,
hotels, restaurants and retail will all benefit.

"No matter where you sell the cannabis, people are going to end up
downtown, absolutely," said Horwitz.

Windsor police are likely to be involved in any community discussion
on where best to locate a city cannabis retail outlet.

"If it's legal, it's legal - our role is community safety and
enforcing the law," said department spokesman Sgt. Steve Betteridge.

By legalizing the possession and recreational use of marijuana by
adults, Betteridge said it's likely that police officers will be
encountering more "impaired-by-drug" situations involving motorists.
He said the department has trained "drug recognition officers."

Next week across the border, Michigan State Police begin a one-year
program in five counties where motorists will be asked to allow the
swabbing of their mouths as part of an effort to cut down on "drugged
driving," which saw a 32-per-cent increase in such traffic fatalities
in Michigan last year.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt