CORNWALL, Ontario – At a Special Meeting on Thursday, Jan. 10, Cornwall City Council voted in favour of allowing private retail stores in the city.
However, it will likely be a long time before the city is seeing any green from this decision. On Jan. 12, the province of Ontario will be holding a lottery to determine who will receive one of 25 retail licenses. Of that 25, only five will be distributed in Eastern Ontario and only to municipalities with populations over 50,000. Cornwall therefore, does not qualify to have a legal retail marijuana store.
Council did receive a report that outlined the rules around private marijuana vendors if Cornwall does have a store someday.
Stores must be at least 150 meters away from schools and daycares.
When a store applies for a license in a municipality, the municipality will be notified as will local residents. The municipality and residents will then have 15 days to comment on the application, but the Alcohol Cannabis and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) will have the final say.
The provincial government has also set aside money for municipalities who choose to opt-in. Cornwall is allotted $56,315 in the first round for opting in. That money would be used for legal fees, enforcement, fire services and more. It is unclear what the financial impact would be however, as stated, Cornwall will not be receiving a store in the first round and likely will not get one for at least a year.
Councillor Syd Gardiner said that if the province wanted to reduce illegal sales and smuggling, Cornwall should have been allotted a license.
“What they should have taken into consideration, is that this is a smuggling area,” he said. “We should be on the first line of groups that get’s it simply because of that.”
Council questions Cornwall Community Police Service (CCPS) Chief Danny Aikman and Deputy Chief Shawna Spowart on the impact legalization and private marijuana retailers would have on their work.
“It (marijuana) is an introductory drug that young people would be introduced to at a younger age,” said Aikman, who went on to explain that some youths “evolve into harder drugs.”
“We don’t see that legalization has made a significant difference in the way we conduct business,” Aikman explained.
Councillor Dean Hollingsworth asked the Chief directly if it would cost more money to opt-in.
“I think it will cost you more to opt-out,” the Chief responded.
The Council ultimately voted unanimously in favour of opting-in and allowing private marijuana retailers.