Fu­ture pot store lo­ca­tions a con­cern

Prox­im­ity to schools raised by school boards as­so­ci­a­tion

North Bay Nugget - - NEWS - Jennifer Hamil­ton-mc­cha­rles

The On­tario Pub­lic School Boards’ As­so­ci­a­tion is ask­ing school trustees across the prov­ince how close cannabis stores should be to el­e­men­tary and sec­ondary schools?

Near North trustee Miche­lina Beam said schools want to get ahead of the is­sue be­fore the drug be­comes le­gal next sum­mer.

“There’s just so lit­tle in­for­ma­tion about how this is go­ing to roll out,” she said dur­ing Tues­day’s com­mit­tee of the whole meet­ing at the board of­fice on Air­port Road.

“There’s fear out there. There’s a strong sug­ges­tion that school boards have poli­cies in place be­fore this be­comes le­gal.”

Trustee Al Bot­tom­ley said he would like to see the prov­ince re­con­sider its plan, and if sales lo­ca­tions are added in the fu­ture to have Liquor Con­trol Board of On­tario out­lets in ru­ral ar­eas sell cannabis.

“Al­though the lo­ca­tion isn’t per­fect, it would cur­tail the sale to mi­nors rather than a gro­cery store,” he said.

“If the de­ci­sion is to sell it at a gro­cery store, where would they put it? In the herb sec­tion?”

Bot­tom­ley said he also sup­ports sales through the LCBO be­cause most ru­ral ar­eas have an out­let.

Near North District School Board trustees are not tak­ing a stance on the is­sue but are wait­ing for a rec­om­men­da­tion from the as­so­ci­a­tion.

The Cannabis Act 2017 will cre­ate a new pro­vin­cial re­tailer that would be over­seen by the Liquor Con­trol Board of On­tario. The dis­tri­bu­tion would be through stand­alone stores and an on­line or­der ser­vice.

It’s ex­pected 150 stand­alone stores will be opened in On­tario by 2020, in­clud­ing 40 stores by July 2018 and up to 80 by July 2019.

Ear­lier this month, the Min­istry of Fi­nance and LCBO an­nounced pot stores will open in Toronto, Mis­sis­sauga, Bramp­ton, Hamil­ton, Bar­rie, Kingston, Kitch­ener, Lon­don, Ot­tawa, Sault Ste. Marie, Sud­bury, Thun­der Bay, vaughan and Windsor.

The min­i­mum wage to use, buy, pos­sess and cul­ti­vate cannabis will be 19. Cannabis use will be banned in pub­lic places, work­places and mo­tor ve­hi­cles.

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