Why not weed?

Seaway News - - Opinion - NICK SEEBRUCH ni­cholas.seebruch@tc.tc

With the mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion gear­ing up, I wanted to bring back my Why Not series of columns and ask why not al­low mar­i­juana to be sold by pri­vate ven­dors in Corn­wall.

Last week, I wrote a story where I got com­ments from each may­oral can­di­date in Corn­wall on their stance on the is­sue. Only one can­di­date, David Mur­phy, said that he was ready to say that he was in favour of pri­vate ven­dors in this mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

Two of the other can­di­dates, Ber­nadette Cle­ment and Les­lie O’shaugh­nessy had reser­va­tions they felt needed to be ad­dressed be­fore they could say yes. Both can­di­dates felt that there were miss­ing de­tails from the prov­ince’s roll out plan that would need to be ironed out.

I don’t think any of the miss­ing de­tails are enough to con­vince me say no to pri­vate ven­dors.

One con­cern that Mayor O’shaugh­nessy has is that it is un­clear whether mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties will be al­lowed to limit the num­ber of mar­i­juana shops in their ju­ris­dic­tion. I feel like if there is no limit on mar­i­juana shops in Corn­wall, that that’s not re­ally a prob­lem. Not all of them will be able to sur­vive. Let the free mar­ket de­cide how many mar­i­juana shops Corn­wall needs.

Coun­cil­lor Ber­nadette Cle­ment said she is not wor­ried about opt­ing in but is wor­ried about the amount of money the prov­ince is promis­ing to help mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties com­bat safety is­sues, $40 mil­lion. I think she’s right in that when spread out across the prov­ince, $40 mil­lion seems like a small amount, but I also have faith that our police ser­vice and our health unit will be pre­pared to deal with any is­sues. Af­ter all, al­co­hol is a con­trolled sub­stance and the amount of crime re­ported in and around liquor stores doesn’t seem to be sig­nif­i­cant.

I do agree with Cle­ment’s con­cerns about the lo­ca­tion of these pri­vate ven­dors. We do not want them to be too close to schools or in other ar­eas that might be un­de­sir­able. I think sce­nar­ios like these will be rare though, and that the com­mu­nity will be able to have its voice heard when they do arise.

Can­di­dates also pointed out that if Corn­wall was the only mu­nic­i­pal­ity in the re­gion that opted out, that it wouldn’t have any mean­ing­ful ef­fect. Again, this is cor­rect, Corn­wall can­not risk being the only mu­nic­i­pal­ity in the re­gion being left out of this new mar­ket. I would rather want to see Corn­wall risk being the only mu­nic­i­pal­ity in the area that al­lows pri­vate ven­dors than being the only mu­nic­i­pal­ity that doesn’t.

The good news for res­i­dents of Corn­wall is that whether or not the mu­nic­i­pal­ity opts out, those who want weed, will still be able to get it through the prov­ince’s on­line store. How­ever, if Corn­wall chooses to opt out, then our city will be left out of the mar­ket and will be miss­ing out on much needed rev­enue from hav­ing these po­ten­tially lu­cra­tive busi­nesses in our ju­ris­dic­tion.

Granted, if Corn­wall does choose to opt out, it can al­ways opt back in at a later time, but the win­dow to get into the mar­i­juana mar­ket may have closed by that time. If by the time we opt back in, pri­vate ven­dors have estab­lished them­selves in neigh­bour­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, then all we would have done is make it harder on our own en­tre­pre­neur­ial sell­ers. Ad­di­tion­ally, Corn­wall would miss the $40 mil­lion being of­fered by the prov­ince if it opts out of the pro­gram.

The le­gal­iza­tion of mar­i­juana is a his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant na­tional mo­ment and now mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have a part to play in that mo­ment. Ev­ery­one run­ning for council, from the may­oral can­di­dates on down will need to be pre­pared on day one to de­cide whether Corn­wall will opt out, because this will be the first ma­jor de­ci­sion the new council makes and I hope they choose to step into this new mar­ket. What do you think readers? Should Corn­wall opt out and not al­low pri­vate mar­i­juana ven­dors? Email me a Let­ter to the Edi­tor with your thoughts at ni­co­las.seebruch@tc.tc

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