Where to buy your own sup­ply?

Seaway News - - OPINION LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - NICK SEE­BRUCH ni­cholas.see­[email protected]

A ma­jor mu­nic­i­pal is­sue that I fol­lowed through the last elec­tion was whether mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties would al­low pri­vate mar­i­juana ven­dors within their ju­ris­dic­tions, now, changes by the Ford gov­ern­ment seem to have made this a moot point.

Due to con­cerns over the On­tario Cannabis Store (OCS)’s abil­ity to sup­ply ven­dors, the gov­ern­ment has lim­ited the num­ber of pri­vate mar­i­juana ven­dors in the prov­ince of On­tario to just 25.

That’s right, 25; for a prov­ince of 13 mil­lion peo­ple spread across over 1 mil­lion sq. km.

To dis­trib­ute these 25 li­censed stores across the prov­ince, the gov­ern­ment has de­cided to cre­ate a lottery sys­tem.

En­trepreneurs can ap­ply to be en­tered into this lottery sys­tem, but there is a catch. The gov­ern­ment has di­vided the prov­ince into dif­fer­ent re­gions, and the re­gion we fall into, the East­ern Re­gion, will only get five li­censed ven­dors.

Ad­di­tion­ally, a ven­dor must be in a mu­nic­i­pal­ity with more than 50,000 peo­ple. See­ing as nei­ther Corn­wall, nor the sur­round­ing town­ships meet that 50,000 thresh­old, those five li­censed ven­dors will ei­ther be in Ot­tawa or Kingston.

For a party and a gov­ern­ment that says they’re “open for busi­ness” they seem to have re­ally throt­tled this busi­ness op­por­tu­nity. In­stead of re­strict­ing growth in this new busi­ness sec­tor, why not grow the sup­ply side?

Mar­i­juana re­tail can prove to be a new busi­ness sec­tor for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, boost­ing di­rect tax rev­enue through prop­erty taxes and boost­ing tourism.

Ad­di­tion­ally, if sup­ply is the prob­lem, then why not build a pro­duc­tion in­dus­try to meet that de­mand?

There are 81 li­censed mar­i­juana pro­duc­ers in the prov­ince of On­tario that sup­ply the OCS, in­clud­ing Ak­we­sasne’s own Seven Leaf Med. Since the Ford gov­ern­ment is so anti-reg­u­la­tion, why not dereg­u­late this in­dus­try to a point where it is eas­ier for pro­duc­ers to get more es­tab­lished.

Let the free mar­ket de­ter­mine what de­mand the in­dus­try can bare. I think we are re­ally miss­ing out on an op­por­tu­nity right now as a prov­ince for some in­creased eco­nomic growth and tax rev­enue.

Dur­ing the 2018 mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion, I asked can­di­dates for coun­cil in Corn­wall and the sur­round­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties if they were in favour of pri­vate mar­i­juana ven­dors. At the time, the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment made this seem like an ur­gent is­sue. The plan then was that mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties had to ei­ther “opt-in” or “opt-out” and I was a strong ad­vo­cate for all local mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to opt-in.

Now how­ever, it seems that even tak­ing a vote on pri­vate mar­i­juana ven­dors is a waste of time for mu­nic­i­pal coun­cils.

South Stor­mont is the only mu­nic­i­pal coun­cil that has al­ready voted on the mat­ter and they chose to opt-in. I won­der if their vote would have been the same if they had known that their chances of get­ting even a single ven­dor in their mu­nic­i­pal­ity was so close to zero.

As it stands now, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties still have un­til Jan. 22 to ei­ther opt-in or out. Corn­wall City Coun­cil next meets on Jan. 14, will see how they vote on this is­sue, if they choose to vote on it at all.

What do you think read­ers? Should the prov­ince dereg­u­late the num­ber of ven­dors they are al­low­ing? Would you want a mar­i­juana ven­dor in ev­ery town? Email me your Let­ter to the Edi­tor at ni­cholas.see­[email protected]

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