UCPR WORRIES OVER NEW MARIJUANA LAW
Marijuana becomes legal in Canada in mid-October and the mayors of Prescott and Russell counties still wonder what that is going to mean for day-to-day life in their communities.
Counties council members spent about half an hour during their Wednesday morning session listing concerns they had about the federal government’s legalization of recreational marijuana use, which takes effect in mid-October. One concern is whether or not making recreational marijuana legal will have any serious financial impact on organized crime.
«Even if marijuana becomes legal,» said Mayor Gary Barton of Champlain Township, «the ‘black market’ will find a way to make a profit.»
Mayors on counties council also discussed whether or not municipalities will have a say about any plans to set up government or private sector marijuana retail outlets in their areas, the impact on policing costs for dealing with people who may drive while intoxicated from smoking marijuana, and other issues. UCPR Chief Administrator Stéphane Parisien noted that there are federal and provincial laws that deal with alcohol abuse and there will be similar laws to deal with marijuana abuse.
A recent announcement from the new Progressive Conservative government indicates that recreational smoking of marijuana in public will follow the same provincial regulations that deal with smoking tobacco in public.
«I’m sure that there will be a lot of complaints about ‘the neighbour next door’,» said Attorney General Caroline Munro during a September 26 news conference with provincial media, «but we’re aligning with the Smoke Free Ontario Act.»
The new legislation for public marijuana smoking would include a ban on smoking within nine metres of public buildings or within 20 metres of children’s play areas, including school yards. The government will also look at special exemptions to allow marijuana use in designated hotel rooms and in long-term care facilities.
The provincial government also announced it will not limit the number of stores allowed to sell marijuana. But licensed growers of marijuana will be limited to just one store of their own at a designated Ontario marijuana production site. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario will regulate private-sector sale outlets.
This has resulted in speculation that major companies may abandon plans for large-scale retail marijuana outlets. The retail privatization policy abandons the original plan of the former Liberal provincial government to give the Liquor Control Board of Ontario an exclusive monopoly on recreational marijuana sales. Private sector outlets will be responsible for making sure not to sell marijuana to anyone under the age of 19.
The province has also set a January 22, 2019 deadline for municipalities to decide if they want to ban marijuana retail stores from their areas altogether. The provincial government’s new policies dealing with legalized marijuana sales and public smoking should be in place by April 1, 2019. Until then, legal marijuana sales in Ontario will be limited to online purchasing through a provincial government-run website.
La légalisation de la marijuana à des fins récréatives aura lieu à la mioctobre. Le conseil des Comtés unis de Prescott et Russell s’inquiète toujours de la façon dont le gouvernement provincial envisage de gérer la vente et l’utilisation légales de la marijuana en Ontario et de la façon dont cela affectera les municipalités.