Pubdate: Wed, 14 Mar 2018
Source: Expositor, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2018 Brantford Expositor
Author: Vincent Ball
Page: A4


A provincial government commitment to provide $ 40 million to help
municipalities cover the costs of pot legalization is a starting
point, says Mayor Chris Friel.

But Friel remains critical of the Ontario government's approach to the
legalization of marijuana saying the increased law enforcement and
safety costs are just one part of the overall picture.

"I'd say that it's a starting point because right now no one really
knows what the extra costs will be," Friel said. "But again I ask:
where is the public consultation?

"As a city we've taken it upon ourselves to gather public input and
from what I've seen so far, there are a lot of questions and people
are deeply divided over a number of issues."

Municipalities across Ontario have asked the province to hold a public
consultation process but so far, the call has not been answered, Friel

As well, Friel has raised concerns about the lack of opportunities for
entrepreneurs and how marijuana legalization can be used by
municipalities in terms of economic development.

Ontario became the first province to announce a detailed plan to sell
and distribute recreational marijuana and a bill was passed in
December to establish a framework for legalization.

A subsidiary of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario will operate the
marijuana retail stores and will oversee the process to establish
locations. Although Brantford wasn't on the original list of 14 cities
announced in November to get pot shops, the city was added to the list
in December and the store is expected to open sometime this summer.

Last week the provincial government announced it would set aside $ 40
million from its share of federal marijuana taxes to municipalities to
help cover law enforcement associated with the legalization of
marijuana. The fund aims to ensure municipalities have resources to
enforce new marijuana laws and deal with issues such as impaired
driving and illegal sale of marijuana. The money will be provided on a
per household basis and adjusted so that every municipality will get a
minimum of $ 10,000.

Brant MPP and Speaker of the Legislature Dave Levac also called the
fund a starting point adding that there will have to be ongoing
discussions and reviews to determine costs associated with the

The federal government has introduced legislation to legalize
marijuana by July 1, 2018. The target however will not be met because
of delays passing legislation in the senate.

Locally, city councillors agreed to form a marijuana legalization task
force with the goal of coming up with a ' made in Brantford' solution
to a number of issues including consumption of marijuana in apartment
buildings and public parks.

Although consumption of legal pot is to be confined to private
residences and not allowed in public areas or workplaces, there are
concerns about how the law will be applied and enforced.

There are also questions about the growth of marijuana plants in homes
or backyards.

The task force met in February and plans are underway to hold a
workshop in late March that would include representatives from the
Brantford- Brant Chamber of Commerce, Brantford Regional Real Estate
Association, Brant County Health Unit and the Brant, Brantford, Six
Nations Impaired and Distracted Driving Advisory Committee.

City officials are also planning to hold a public information meetings
following the March workshop.
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