Friel crit­i­cal of pot plan


Brant­ford Mayor Chris Friel wants the prov­ince to re­lease the find­ings of the con­sul­ta­tion process that led to its plans for dis­tri­bu­tion of le­gal­ized mar­i­juana in On­tario.

On­tario is the first prov­ince out of the gate with a de­tailed plan to sell and dis­trib­ute re­cre­ational mar­i­juana when Ot­tawa le­gal­izes it next sum­mer, rolling out plans Fri­day to sell pot through its LCBO liquor store mo­nop­oly.

De­spite a fed­eral task force rec­om­men­da­tion against mix­ing pot and booze sales, On­tario’s Lib­eral gov­ern­ment says mar­i­juana will be sold in up to 150 ded­i­cated LCBO stores run by the prov­ince’s liquor con­trol board.

And buy­ers will be able to get pot at sep­a­rate re­tail out­lets or through an LCBO-run web­site that should be ready for busi­ness by next July.

I’m frus­trated and deeply dis­ap­pointed with the provincial gov­ern­ment’s sug­gested ap­proach to man­ag­ing fed­eral le­gal­iza­tion of cannabis.” Brant­ford Mayor Chris Friel

But Friel is crit­i­cal of the plan.

“I’m frus­trated and deeply dis­ap­pointed with the provincial gov­ern­ment’s sug­gested ap­proach to man­ag­ing fed­eral le­gal­iza­tion of cannabis,” Friel said.

“The LCBO model is a mo­nop­oly con­trolled by the prov­ince. This pro­posed model fails to take into con­sid­er­a­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties for en­trepreneurs and small busi­ness, as well as agri­cul­tural in­ter­ests.”

It elim­i­nates po­ten­tial eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and en­trepreneur­ship for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and bur­dens them with hav­ing to man­age the strain on an al­ready maxed­out re­sources, to de­liver mu­nic­i­pal so­cial ser­vices and law en­force­ment, with­out any of the pow­ers to reg­u­late, noted the mayor.

“What I see hap­pen­ing to (in­de­pen­dent) grow­ers is that they be­come like those who run craft brew­eries and get­ting squeezed out of the mar­ket,” said Friel, adding that he’s also con­cerned about the prov­ince’s plans’ im­pact on farm­ers.

“Why can’t farm­ers have this as a third crop?” the mayor said. “Why couldn’t farm­ers set up their own co-op? No one cre­ates and man­ages co-ops bet­ter than farm­ers.”

He said that the gov­ern­ment’s ap­proach will not elim­i­nated the black mar­ket for mar­i­juana.

The fed­eral gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion early this year that seeks to le­gal­ize and reg­u­late re­cre­ational use of mar­i­juana by July 1, 2018. Prov­inces have been left with the job of de­sign­ing their own dis­tri­bu­tion sys­tem and reg­u­la­tions.

The On­tario gov­ern­ment says the LCBO model is “time-tested” and it makes sense to use it for mar­i­juana.

But Friel, who is the chair of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of On­tario task force on mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion, said that the prov­ince’s ap­proach is in op­po­si­tion to what has been sug­gested by mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and oth­ers with an in­ter­est in the in­dus­try.

“I pro­vided sub­stan­tial feed­back to our provincial part­ners that is di­a­met­ri­cally op­posed to the model pro­posed,” Friel said. “How and why was that feed­back not con­sid­ered?”

The mayor said he has spent the last 12 months con­sult­ing with ad­vo­cacy groups, small busi­ness own­ers, farm­ers, lawyers and con­stituents. He is call­ing on the prov­ince to re­lease to the public the re­sults of its con­sul­ta­tion process.

“I think it’s in­cum­bent on the min­istries to re­lease the re­sults of the public con­sul­ta­tion that in­formed this strat­egy, specif­i­cally, the law en­force­ment ta­ble, so that the public can un­der­stand the ra­tio­nale that led to (the) an­nounce­ment,” Friel said.

“This process was not a di­a­logue, it was a down­load.

“I im­plore the provincial gov­ern­ment to also con­sider the voices out­side of Toronto and Ot­tawa when mak­ing such an im­por­tant de­ci­sion that will dra­mat­i­cally im­pact all mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties in On­tario.”

Brant­ford Mayor Chris Friel


Brant­ford Mayor Chris Friel says that the provincial gov­ern­ment ig­nored public con­sul­ta­tion in rolling out its plan to dis­trib­ute mar­i­juana when it is le­gal­ized next year.

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