Pot smokers may soon be able to purchase their cannabis in Barrie.
Barrie city council approved a motion at its Jan. 14 meeting to allow provincially licensed cannabis retail stores in Barrie, subject to Federal and Provincial regulations.
Though retail marijuana stores were given the go-ahead, council also requested that changes be made to the Barrie’s Smoking By-laws to prohibit cannabis smoking and vaping in all public spaces, including walkways and sidewalks.
While the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is the provincial regulator authorized to grant store licenses and responsible for operational licensing and determining where stores may be located, local council is requesting its own guidelines on exactly where those stores can be.
They will be issuing a “Cannabis Public Interest Statement” to AGCO to request doubling the distance cannabis retail stores can be from schools from 150 to 300 metres and a 150m separation from other facilities such as recreational facilities and parks, daycares, treatment centres for addiction, libraries and youth-oriented addresses.
Ultimately, though, the decision will be left up to the Province.
The Province asked all municipalities in Ontario to make a decision by Jan. 22, 2019 to opt in or out of allowing private cannabis retail stores. Opting in, like Barrie did, means they will receive a greater level of funding than those that opt-out.
A total of $40 million over two years will be provided by the Province to help with the costs surrounding cannabis legalization. Barrie will get one payment of $136,869 and a second payment, though the total is to be determined.
Of that, one-third of the funding will go to Barrie Police Service for enforcement. The remaining funds will go to the city for communication with the public and retail store applicants, court resources and hiring more Municipal Law Enforcement Officers, if necessary, to enforce regulation in parks, workplaces and public places.
The opening of the cannabis stores across Ontario will come in phases, with an initial phase of up to 25 store authorizations issued for the entire province. Operators will be allowed to open for business on April .
A lottery system has been implemented by the AGCO to determine who is eligible for the initial cannabis retail store licenses to legally operate in Ontario. The results of which will be posted on the AGCO website.
The AGCO will provide municipalities and the public a 15-day notification period of a proposed store site to receive public input. The public notification of a proposed cannabis retail store will be posted on the building and on the AGCO’s website.
photo: Barrie city council gave the green light to allow provincially licensed cannabis retail stores in Barrie, subject to Federal and Provincial regulations. Rick Procter/Unsplash