Waterloo Region’s city and township councils must decide soon if they’re opting in or out when it comes to having cannabis stores.
The landscape is uncertain, and the stakes are high.
Many local councils will decide at their first meeting in January, the week of the 14th. But that will be after the first wave of store approvals.
It has been legal since Oct. 17 to purchase marijuana online from the Ontario Cannabis Store.
When it comes to physical stores set up in communities, however, most municipalities are still on the fence.
Municipalities that say yes to physical cannabis stores can’t change their minds later and opt out. They’ll be in for good.
Municipalities that say no can change their minds later. But if they wait, they’ll miss out on extra funding to help pay for extra police and bylaw enforcement officers.
One problem of agreeing to the stores is that local officials don’t have any say in the location, as long as it’s suitable for a retail outlet.
The stores can’t be within 150 meters of a school. But other than that, the city or township has no ability to require, for example, that stores stay a certain distance away from one another.
The North American experience with alcohol can offer some lessons now. When alcohol was illegal, it was easy for children to buy it because once you got to the point of sale, there were very few rules. And also, the illegal booze could make you sick, because its manufacture wasn’t regulated.
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