City of Kawartha Lakes CAO Ron Taylor and Senior Licensing Officer Alix Scarr shared a detailed presentation on the rules and regulations governing retail cannabis sales locations in the province of Ontario for Council consideration.
Licensing of these stores is going to be controlled by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission. The window opens for business applications to the Commission on December 17.
Every municipality has until January 22, 2019 to decide whether they will allow these stores within their jurisdiction.
CKL will be making their decision at the Council meeting on January 15, 2019 after soliciting and considering public input.
This is what we think we know about what the future of cannabis sales in Ontario might look like:
1. Sales in Ontario will be limited to those 19 and older. Apparently there is a movement in Quebec to raise their cannabis usage age to 21.
2. Ontario will be responsible for drawing up rules for sales within the province.
3. All cannabis stores in Ontario will only be able to buy their product from one supplier, the Province of Ontario.
4. There will be limitations on how many stores one individual can own to prevent a monopoly situation from evolving.
5. Each store must be a stand-alone business, and cannot share its retail location with any other product.
6. Municipalities cannot license or zone these stores out of existence with cannabis store specific local legislation.
7. All staff must have specialized training.
8. Where retail is allowed in a municipality, cannabis stores must be allowed.
9. A neighboring business cannot prevent by petition or threatened legal action a cannabis store that has met the Alcohol and Gaming Commission’s guidelines from opening beside their business.
10. There will no restriction on signage at these businesses that do not apply to other businesses anywhere in Ontario.
There is a very clear message from the Province that these stores will be treated, legislated, and taxed like all other small businesses.
Deputy Mayor Elmslie wondered if approval for cannabis stores should have been made at the December 11 Council meeting so that individuals could prepare their applications knowing they were not wasting time and money. Mayor Letham insisted that no CKL decision would be made without public input on January 15.
Elmslie continued suggesting that the municipality really has no choice. There is no way to keep the product out of the City, so the best decision will likely be to approve and regulate the outlets to the best of the City’s abilities.
Councillor Yeo wanted to know if a limit could be put on the number of cannabis shops in a community, fearing they would soon be as ubiquitous as liquor stores in American cities. Yeo was told by the presenters that the only thing that will limit the number of stores in Lindsay are the number of licenses granted by the Province to potential retailers. Yeo suggested if we can’t keep the stores out of our community that the best thing to do is to allow local entrepreneurs to take advantage of the open market.
Councillor O’Reilly was disappointed to discover that local businesses could not have a say in who their neighbours would be. The presenters said that local landlords would have final say on who they rented to, and the City had no power to intervene.
Observers in the press gallery were surprised that there wasn’t more discussion from the other Councillors on this issue. If their silence is indicative of their attitudes on this issue, most expect to see the City approve retail cannabis storefronts at the January 15, 2019 meeting.