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North Bay says yes to pot shops

From link to article by Gord Young September 5, 2018

North Bay is opting “in” on the provincial government’s plan to introduce private retail stores for cannabis.

A majority of council agreed Tuesday to permit bricks-and-mortar “pot shops” within the city under Ontario’s new private retail model for the sale of legal recreational marijuana that’s set to launch April 1, 2019.

“For me, personally, it wasn’t a difficult decision because cannabis is here today,” said Coun. Mac Bain, whose motion to allow physical pot retail stores in North Bay received near unanimous support.

He noted legal weed will be available online to anyone in the province who is 19 and older when recreational marijuana becomes legal on Oct. 17.

“To have a bricks-and-mortar store is just an extension of what the rules are going to be in the province of Ontario,” said Bain, suggesting the city isn’t in a position to be turning away businesses. “I am totally against just having one product online and not having a brick-and-mortar store.”

Ontario pot sales will only be online to start, with private “pot shop” sales to kick off next spring.

The Ford government, however, has given Ontario municipalities a one-time chance to opt out of having those physical shops within their boundaries, suggesting councils make their decisions sooner rather than later.

Bain suggested the next city council is going to have a lot decisions to make very quickly and would be hard-pressed to tackle the issue off the bat.

“It needs to be made now,” he said, of the decision, noting the province will likely want to know which municipalities are in and which ones are out by the end of January.

Coun. Mark King, the only member to vote against the motion, argued otherwise. He said municipalities have only one opportunity to opt out of having physical pot retail stores. But King suggested there will be opportunities later on for communities to opt in.

King said he realizes that with legalization people who want to purchase legal weed will be able to do so. But he said he firmly believes that marijuana is a “gateway drug” and called on Bain to hold off on making any decisions until more is known about how legalization and sales will unfold.

King noted that it’s important for the city to respect its neighbours, highlighting how Nipissing First Nation Chief Scott McLeod has spoken out against marijuana sales in his community.

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