Pubdate: Sat, 04 Nov 2017
Source: Record, The (Kitchener, CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Author: Laura Booth
Page: A1


KITCHENER - Kitchener will be one of the first cities in Ontario to
get a provincially run recreational cannabis store.

On Friday, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario announced standalone
store locations for 14 municipalities in anticipation of the federal
government's intention to legalize cannabis by July 2018.

"In light of our size, the fact that we're the eleventh largest region
in the country, I'm not surprised that we're one of the first
communities," said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, in response to the

The LCBO, along with the Ministry of Finance, will meet with municipal
staff in the coming weeks to determine what guidelines will be in
place for the selection of a storefront location. Among those, the
province and the city agree that a store should not be located close
to schools.

Vrbanovic said the city will advocate for consultation with the
community - something the LCBO has already announced it intends to
carry out - and also that the province make resources available to
social and policing services, which could be impacted by

He anticipates discussion between the city and the province will
commence soon.

"With the thought of these being up and running by July 1, things are
going to have to move fairly quickly I think," he said.

Nathan Woodworth, president and CEO of Waterloo region medical
marijuana producer James E. Wagner Cultivation (JWC), said the
announcement is "exciting news" for the region.

The company, which recently announced it is leasing the former Lear
Corp. manufacturing plant in Kitchener to increase production of
medical marijuana, has plans to expand to also serve the recreational

Woodworth said there's certainly demand for the product in the

"We know from experience that there are a lot of cannabis users in the
area who need and certainly would appreciate the support of the
Ontario government," he said.

And while Woodworth said a Kitchener location is welcome news, he
admits it will be hard to pick the storefront site.

"We have to address the elephant in the room and that is to say, that
one location in Kitchener-Waterloo is not going to be enough in the
long term," he said.

If he had to pick the first location, he would suggest it be near the
Conestoga Parkway.

"Let's put it near the expressway because we're going to have people
from all over the region coming here," he said. "(And) make it a nice
big one so we can accommodate the … long lines."

Peter Thurley, a patient advocate with Canadians for Fair Access to
Medical Marijuana, hopes the storefront location is convenient and

"What I worry is going to happen is we're going to end up with some
kind of nondescript standalone store at the edge of town," he said.

The other 13 municipalities identified in Friday's announcement are
Barrie, Brampton, Hamilton, Kingston, London, Mississauga, Ottawa,
Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Vaughan and Windsor.

The province said it will identify more locations for its first batch
of 40 stores but it noted that all consumers will be able to access
cannabis through an online retail website.

The province plans to set up approximately 150 standalone cannabis
stores by 2020.

Ontario was the first province to announce a detailed plan to sell and
distribute recreational marijuana and will set the legal age to
purchase it at 19.
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