Pubdate: Wed, 13 Dec 2017
Source: Windsor Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Windsor Star
Author: Brian Cross
Page: 5


With the Ontario government passing legislation Tuesday that paves the
way for the government-run sale of recreational marijuana starting in
July, the search is on for a ready-to-go store in Windsor.

According to a City of Windsor staff report going to council Monday,
the list of requirements for this store, run by an LCBO subsidiary,
the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corp., include a standalone operation,
apart from the LCBO's alcohol operations; 2,500 square feet of space
at a location that's already properly zoned for retail; a location
that's near to a Transit Windsor bus route; an existing space instead
of new construction; and a location that's not located close to
schools, addiction treatment centres, mental-health facilities and
emergency shelters.

City staff met with government representatives in late November to
discuss the retail store's location. Staff were told that the site
could be selected as early as February, but before any final decisions
will be made the public will be informed about the location and given
an opportunity to have input.

Windsor is one of 14 Ontario cities to get the first retail stores
starting July 1. Eventually there will be 150 stores. In a news
release Tuesday, the government said there will be no self-service.
All products will be ordered at a counter and staff will be specially
trained to "sell products in a safe and socially responsible manner to
restrict access for minors (under age 19) and give consumers the
information they need."

The stores are expected to charge $10 a gram.

"Ten bucks is not crazy," said Jon Liedtke, the owner of the downtown
medical marijuana lounge Higher Limits, who said the price is around
the black market price. He said he would have liked the store to be
located downtown to cater to tourists coming from the U.S. to take
advantage of legal cannabis. But he expects a site out from the core
will be selected.

Liedtke said he's "a little flabbergasted" by the government's failure
to address the tourism potential of legal cannabis in a border city
like Windsor. The legislation states that people will only be allowed
to use recreational cannabis - whether it is smoked, eaten or applied
topically - in private residences. That rules out hotel rooms, cafes,
the street and his own lounge, which he said will continue to cater to
medical marijuana users.

In a news release, the Ministry of Health says "this approach will
allow people in Ontario, especially children and youth, to continue to
enjoy public spaces like local parks."

But there are 50 million people within a four-hour drive of Windsor
and about 7.5 million of them use cannabis, Liedtke said.

"If just one per cent of them decide to come here on a Friday night to
purchase cannabis, that's 75,000 Americans on our streets," he said.
"I had hoped ... as a downtown businessman, the province would
recognize the need for licensed recreation spaces for the tourism
aspect alone."

With his experience running a medical marijuana lounge, Liedtke said
that many people need a place to take it outside their residence. They
could be living in a college dorm or another communal living
arrangement where its use may not be allowed. They could be parents
who don't want their kids exposed to it, or they could have roommates
who don't want it used in the apartment.

He said restricting cannabis use to residences will mean lots of
people breaking the rule - requiring extra enforcement by police or
health inspectors.

Premier Kathleen Wynne said Tuesday municipalities can begin
discussions with Ontario over costs associated with legalized
marijuana, in light of a new tax revenue-sharing agreement between the
provinces and federal government.

Wynne's comments come after Ottawa agreed on Monday to give provinces
and territories a 75 per cent share of federal excise tax revenues
from the sale of legalized pot. The remaining 25 per cent - to a
maximum of $100 million a year - will stay with the federal
government. Federal revenues above $100 million will also go to the
provinces and territories.

Municipalities have said they will shoulder most of the costs of
marijuana legalization and want funding to offset the expense.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt