Pot plan has mayors in the weeds
A month after Ontario said LCBO-run stores would sell pot, civic leaders wonder where
Warning time is running out to get ready, some Southwestern Ontario mayors — worried about the burden for their cities — say they’re still in the dark over where Ontario plans to sell pot through its liquor-store monopoly.
Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government says the province will start with 40 stand-alone marijuana outlets, run by the LCBO, and an online cannabis-selling service by July 1, when the federal Liberals have vowed to liberalize Canada’s pot laws to make recreational use legal.
But a month after the Wynne Grits rolled out their plan, few details have reached civic officials, who worry about poten- tial zoning issues over where pot can be sold and smoked and the cost of enforcing the law that many fear will fall to them. “What’s hap- pened is the federal, pro- vincial gov- ernments have made these decisions without really consulting with us, and now we’re struggling,” Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley said. “We can’t get clear answers.” Bradley was one of the mayors on a conference call with Finance Minister Charles Sousa and Attorney General Yasir
Naqvi after Ontario rolled out its pot plan Sept. 8. Bradley said the conversation left him believing Sarnia
wouldn’t get one of the first 40
stores — of the 150 planned by
2020 — because the province will open them in cities, like London, where illegal pot shops have proliferated.
London, the only Southwestern Ontario city where dispensaries operate, has five of the illegal businesses, including one where anyone 19 or older can buy cannabis products, even if they don’t have a medical licence required by the city’s other pot shops.
Police have raided the dispensaries repeatedly, only to see them reopen days later.