Ma­ri­jua­na le­ga­li­za­tion is fast ap­proa­ching


On­ta­rio has an­noun­ced the pro­vince’s plan for the dis­tri­bu­tion of ma­ri­jua­na, ahead of le­ga­li­za­tion plan­ned for next spring. Re­crea­tio­nal can­na­bis will be sold through a chain of spe­cial­ty stores ope­ra­ted by the Li­quor Con­trol Board of On­ta­rio (LCBO). The plan is to open 150 ma­ri­jua­na stores by the year 2020 and 40 stores by next sum­mer. Ac­cor­ding to Glen­gar­ry-Pres­cott-Rus­sell MPP Grant Crack, it has not yet been de­ter­mi­ned as to where these stores will be lo­ca­ted across the pro­vince and what that would mean for the Pres­cott-Rus­sell re­gion.

The LCBO will be in charge of these spe­cial­ty stores, and will al­so of­fer on­line pur­cha­sing of ma­ri­jua­na. The sale price of the pro­ducts has not yet been de­ter­mi­ned by the pro­vince and will be dis­cus­sed at fur­ther consul­ta­tions bet­ween the fe­de­ral and pro­vin­cial go­vern­ments this fall. Can­na­bis use will be pro­hi­bi­ted in all pu­blic places and will on­ly be ac­cep­table in pri­vate re­si­dences. This puts a halt on all en­tre­pre­neu­rial ideas for res­tau­rants or va­por bars and lounges.

“What I could say on that is that we have full in­ten­tions to conti­nue to ma­nage this file through sub­si­dia­ries of the LCBO,” said Crack. “There’s been no dis­cus­sion at this time that I am aware of about broa­de­ning this in­to other re­tail out­lets.”

The fe­de­ral go­vern­ment al­so an­noun­ced $161 mil­lion to the coun­try’s po­lice forces, with $ 81 mil­lion al­lo­ca­ted to the pro­vin­cial forces. This mo­ney is to co­ver the ad­di­tio­nal costs of sup­plying drug tes­ting de­vices, trai­ning all po­lice of­fi­cers to re­co­gnize drug users, as well as the symp­toms of im­pai­red dri­ving.

Se­ve­ral re­pre­sen­ta­tives of Ca­na­dian po­lice or­ga­ni­za­tions have ex­pres­sed their concerns that they will not be rea­dy to car­ry out these laws for next sum­mer. The De­pu­ty Com­mis­sio­ner of the On­ta­rio Pro­vin­cial Po­lice and the Pro­vin­cial Com­man­ding Of­fi­cer of the In­ves­ti­ga­tions and Or­ga­ni­zed Crime Com­mand, Rick Bar­num, pu­bli­cly sta­ted that if the go­vern­ment does not post­pone the date of le­ga­li­za­tion and does not al­low the po­lice to pro­per­ly pre­pare and train their of­fi­cers, there will be a per­iod of six months to a year that will al­low for mis­takes and an in­crease in or­ga­ni­zed crime.

“We have come up with a plan in a res­pon­sible man­ner to start off with 40 stores. We are not going in­to this full force right at the start,” said Crack. “We’re saying ‘Let’s try it here, let’s open these out­lets first’, and pro­vide the re­sources we feel are ne­ces­sa­ry to the dif­ferent sta­ke­hol­ders, in­clu­ding the po­lice, that are in­vol­ved and let’s see how those 40 evolve, and then 90 six months la­ter, and on­ly then 150 by 2020.” Re­pre­sen­ta­tives from the Ca­na­dian As­so­cia­tion of Chiefs of Po­lice, the On­ta­rio Pro­vin­cial Po­lice and the Sas­ka­toon Po­lice Ser­vice all ex­pres­sed that they al­so want the fe­de­ral go­vern­ment to re­con­si­der al­lo­wing re­si­dents to grow their own ma­ri­jua­na plants, be­cause it will be too dif­fi­cult to con­trol and can fa­ci­li­tate mi­nors in get­ting their hands on ma­ri­jua­na.

Crack al­so ex­pres­sed un­cer­tain­ty about the amount of ma­ri­jua­na stores that will be ope­ned – 150 stores by 2020 – and if that will be enough to sa­tis­fy the needs of the pro- vince. “Es­pe­cial­ly in ru­ral On­ta­rio, be­cause ru­ral On­ta­rians de­serve the same ac­cess, not on­ly to can­na­bis but al­so to al­co­hol in my opi­nion, that people in ur­ban areas en­joy,” he said. The pro­vin­cial go­vern­ment has not yet bog­ged down all the spe­ci­fics of this ma­ri­jua­na dis­tri­bu­tion plan and the im­pact it will have on the Pres­cott-Rus­sell area is still to lar­ge­ly be de­ter­mi­ned.

—pho­to four­nie

L’On­ta­rio vient d’an­non­cer le plan de la pro­vince pour la dis­tri­bu­tion de la ma­ri­jua­na, en vue de la lé­ga­li­sa­tion l’an pro­chain. Le can­na­bis ré­créa­tif se­ra ven­du dans une chaine de bou­tiques spé­cia­li­sées gé­rées par la so­cié­té des al­cools de l’On­ta­rio. La pro­vince en­vi­sage d’avoir 150 ma­ga­sins de ma­ri­jua­na dès l’an­née 2020, et 40 ma­ga­sins l’été pro­chain. Se­lon le dé­pu­té de Glen­gar­ry-Pres­cottRus­sell, Grant Crack, on n’a tou­jours pas dé­ter­mi­né où se­ront si­tués ces ma­ga­sins.

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