Pubdate: Fri, 15 Dec 2017
Source: Chatham Daily News, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Chatham Daily News
Author: Trevor Terfloth
Page: A1


Medical officer of health expects regulations will

Chatham-Kent's medical officer of health is remaining neutral on a
provincially operated cannabis store slated to open next year.

However, Dr. David Colby admits he's intrigued by how it might play
out in the communities that were announced as part of the first phase.

"It will be very interesting to see how society reacts to this," he
told The Daily News on Thursday.

It was recently announced that Chatham-Kent will have a retail
cannabis store by July of next year.

Fifteen cities were listed on Wednesday, in addition to the 14 cities
that were previously announced in November.

The Finance Ministry is partnering with the newly formed Ontario
Cannabis Retail Corporation and hosting communities on the initiative.
Chat ham Kent joins London and Windsor as the southwestern Ontario
communities initially selected to host a cannabis store.

Colby expects that regulations governing the substance will continue
to evolve, not necessarily to loosen them but possibly enforce in a
stricter fashion.

"Even the federal and provincial governments have indicated that this
is something that is liable to change with time," he said. "Not
necessarily liberalized. It could change the other way. But who knows?"

Since marijuana is becoming a legally available product, Colby said he
likely wouldn't weigh in any further on the issue unless asked in an
official capacity to comment.

However, he stressed that smoke of any kind has its risks, regardless
of the substance.

"The inhalation of combustible products (is) bad for your lungs," he
said. "One thing that I did notice is that the law doesn't mention
ingestibles. Vaping and ingestion are both less harmful to the lung
than smoking.

"It is likely that more legislation will evolve that will address
these things, so we're just going to continue to caution people."

In April, the federal government introduced legislation to legalize
cannabis, with the Ontario government following with the Cannabis Act
and the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation Act. This established the
Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation as a subsidiary corporation under
the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. The retail and distribution
system is proposed to include an online provincewide sales channel by
July and up to 150 standalone stores in 2020, starting with 40 by July
2018 and rising to 80 within the first year.

This proposed system would sell cannabis and cannabis-related items
only, not alcohol.

In a previous interview, Mayor Randy Hope said the municipality plans
to meet with provincial officials and provide input concerning
potential locations. He also believes municipalities should receive
financial compensation for hosting the stores.
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