HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html A Awaiting A Game For Local Impact Of Pot Legalization
Pubdate: Sat, 11 Nov 2017
Source: Beacon Herald, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Osprey Media Group Inc.
Contact: http://www.stratfordbeaconherald.com/letters
Website: http://www.stratfordbeaconherald.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/1459
Author: Jonathan Juha
Page: A1

A 'WAITING ' GAME FOR LOCAL IMPACT OF POT LEGALIZATION

Mayor Dan Mathieson said it was to be expected that Stratford wasn't
included in the first wave of municipalities chosen by the province to
have government-run marijuana outlets by next year.

But more information will be needed from upper levels of governments,
he added, to determine the real impacts the rollout of the proposed
legislation will have in the city and whether not being included in
the first wave was a positive or negative development.

The province announced last week the first cities where the province
will open stand-alone LCBO-like stores that will be authorized to sell
pot.

Out of the 14 cities chosen, only three are located in southwestern
Ontario - London, Windsor and Kitchener.

The other cities are Barrie, Brampton, Hamilton, Kingston,
Mississauga, Ottawa, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Toronto
and Vaughan.

"It's not surprising we weren't included in the first round,"
Mathieson said. "I knew, based on census metropolitan areas, places
like London to the south and Kitchener to the east probably had a
better probability of occurring, and I think that is what we saw happening."

While not included in the first round, Mathieson said Stratford, as
many municipalities around the country, will eventually have to face
the effects of legalizing recreational marijuana use and having legal
outlets selling pot in the city.

"I would say that it is inevitable. If that's the province's strategy,
inevitably it will come to this community, and we need to get prepared
for that," he said of the province's plan, which anticipates the
number of legal dispensaries in the province will be 150 by 2020. How
the city prepares, however, will depend on how the province and the
federal government decide to move forward. And that won't be possible
until more details are made available, Mathieson said. "I do know
there will be social costs and there will be police costs. I don't
know what the projections are because we have not been given them by
the province on what the sharing revenue is to municipalities," he
said. "I know the federal government has clearly indicated what they
are planning to do on revenue sharing with the province, but at some
point, the services and effects will be felt at the local level, and
we need to know where we are at. "But it's early days for us to make
those determinations, and we ! are waiting for more
information."

>From a policing standpoint, new acting police Chief Gerry Foster said
the Stratford Police Service is ready to deal with the changes.

"As the legislation appears to be now, it really is relatively
straightforward and not dissimilar to the Liquor License Act … so I
think we'll parallel that, and we might need to address some training
issues, but I think we are in a good shape," he said.

For him, the most immediate impact could relate to the number of
impaired driving cases in the city.

"There's probably a good chance that impaired driving by this drug
will increase," he said.

Yet Foster said he's confident about the police's level of experience
and the types of resources available.

"We have a good number of our officers trained as 'standardized field
sobriety test' officers who are able to conduct testing in the field
to assess impairment by drug," he said. "We have also invested in
three drug recognition experts for the officers on the road … and they
are capable to evaluate people and determine what kind of drug, if
any, the person might be impaired by.

"I think we are pretty well positioned."
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