By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
Municipal governments have until January to decide if they want to host cannabis stores in their communities.
The Ontario government recently introduced legislation recently that authorized the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to license private cannabis stores in Ontario communities.
Stores that have received their licenses will be set to open on April 1, 2019. The province will also be operating an on-line cannabis retailer beginning on Oct. 17.
The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) says that it supports private cannabis retail due to the jobs and economic benefits that it can offer.
However, AMO believes that the licensing process and on-going store operations need to reflect community and local government concerns.
The AGCO is set to have a 15-day comment period so that the public, communities and municipal governments can provide input on store locations before they receive their licenses.
Municipal governments still have the option to opt out of cannabis sales until Jan. 22, 2019.
The current mayors of Markham and Richmond Hill have announced their municipalities would be opting out.
Current Oshawa mayor John Henry questioned the process of legalization on numerous occasions.
The city’s current council has not made an official resolution or decide on opting out.
Municipalities that opt out of private sales have the option of opting back in later on.
While the full funding allocation will be announced at a later date, all municipal governments will be receiving at least $10,000 to help in the transition to legalized cannabis.
All stores will be required to observe a minimum distance from schools in place of local planning controls.
The Ontario government also recently announced that cannabis would be following the same rules that are currently in place for use of tobacco under the Smoke Free Ontario Act.
What this means is that cannabis will not be allowed to be smoked in an enclosed workplace, public place or specifically designated outdoor places in Ontario. If cannabis is smoked or lit in one of these places, the user may receive a ticket and/or a fine.
Cannabis will be legalized throughout Canada on Oct. 17.