HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Mayor Questions How Legal Pot Plan Will Affect Sarnia
Pubdate: Sat, 09 Sep 2017
Source: Observer, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017, Sarnia Observer
Contact: http://www.theobserver.ca/letters
Website: http://www.theobserver.ca
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/1676
Author: Tyler Kula
Page: A1

MAYOR QUESTIONS HOW LEGAL POT PLAN WILL AFFECT SARNIA

Approach to legal marijuana 'very Canadian,' Bradley says

Sarnia's lack of private marijuana dispensaries could mean the border
city takes a back seat when cannabis stores operated by the liquor
control board open shop, Sarnia's mayor says.

"That may mean we're not on the original list," said Mike
Bradley.

Those stores - up to 150 expected by 2020 - are part of a new
provincial plan for legal pot unveiled Friday which also restricts
purchases, possession and use in Ontario to people 19 and older as of
July 1, 2018, the legalization date set by Ottawa.

The approach means illegal dispensaries that have popped up in places
like Toronto and Ottawa will continue to be illegal, provincial
government officials said.

Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, Finance Minister Charles Sousa and
Health Minister Eric Hoskins made the announcement.

The first stores, about 40 in July of 2018 and physically separate
from existing LCBO stores selling alcohol, are expected to go where
illegal dispensaries are most prominent, Bradley said.

Ministry of Finance spokesperson Scott Blodgett confirmed it will be
based on the "illegal market and distribution across the province."

Sarnia has no illegal dispensaries, police Chief Phil Nelson
said.

"We haven't had that experience here yet."

The plan calls for the LCBO to also head up online distribution, with
identification checks and signatures required upon delivery.

The focus, provincial officials said, is on safety. An enforcement
summit is being planned with police agencies, public health and
others, and prevention and education efforts are being aimed at youth.

Meanwhile, using marijuana recreationally won't be permitted publicly-
just in private dwellings.

Plans are to later look into "designed establishments" where people
can partake.

"It seems to me it's very Canadian," said Bradley.

"We're going to walk on the wild side, but we're going to do it with
what I call Presbyterian rules."

A lot of questions remain, he said, including how large a slice of
sales revenue will go to municipalities saddled with enforcement costs.

Border cities like Sarnia could be especially affected, he
said.

"We know we'll see an influx of toking tourists," he said, referring
to people expected to cross from Michigan, where marijuana is illegal.

"That means there'll be a bigger impact on us as it relates to
policing costs and dealing with those issues," Bradley said.

He also wants to know what power municipalities will have in
determining where stores will be zoned.

Government officials said they won't be by schools, and the province
will set up "an engagement process" with municipalities to determine
locations.

Sarnia currently has one officer trained to detect if people are
impaired by drugs while driving, said Nelson, noting there's a lot
still up in the air with the coming federal legislation.

Ontario is the first to put out a provincial framework for the federal
push to legalize recreational marijuana.

"My major concern right now," Nelson said, "will be, 'Who's going to
be paying for any training that needs to be done (and) who's going to
provide us with an approved screening device?' "

Sarnia Coun. Cindy Scholten said she's "shocked and angry" at Friday's
announcement.

She has a notice of motion headed to Monday's council meeting, urging
council to push for private sales.

"Which I think would definitely pump some revenue dollars into our
community, it would promote new jobs, and I think it would circulate
money locally," she said.

Plans are to continue that push, she said.

"I just think if we don't fight, we're really missing an opportunity
here."
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MAP posted-by: Matt