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Oshawa is in on private retail cannabis shops

marijuanaAfter four hour meeting on Thursday evening, city council voted 7-4 in favour of allowing pot shops in the city once the province rolls them out on April 1, 2019.

Councillors John Gray, Rick Kerr, Tito Dante-Marimpietri, Brian Nicholson, Bob Chapman, Derek Giberson, and Mayor Dan Carter voted in favour while Councillors John Neal, Bradley Marks, Rosemary McConkey, and Jane Hurst were opposed.

Council heard from a number of delegations prior to its decision, including a few individuals who have applied for a license for a cannabis retail store.

Gray, who brought forth the motion to opt-in, said humans have been consuming marijuana for 6,000 years.

“We aren’t going to turn back the clock…we have the opportunity to make this available to our citizens if they so wish, they don’t have to, but we don’t have to block them either,” Gray said. “People can make intelligent decisions for themselves, and if they think there is merit in marijuana…so be it.”

Nicholson said the reality is marijuana is now legal, and there is nothing the city can do to change it.

“The only option that is put before us is the very limited option we have. We cannot roll back the federal legislation, we cannot roll back the provincial legislation…,” Nicholson said.

The Ward 5 regional councillor said the city had the chance to allow its residents to purchase a “safe, regulated product.”

McConkey said some of the benefits of cannabis and related-products are well known, but she wanted to make a “fair and reasoned decision.”

She said “caution is important” in such a choice, and desired to wait and see how retail cannabis stores roll out in other municipalities.

Furthermore, McConkey questioned how significant of an “economic driver” the cannabis industry would be for Oshawa, an argument made by a number of delegates to council during the evening in support of allowing stores.

Hurst said she could not support opting in because of the city’s lack of ability to regulate where stores would be located and how there could be.

Speaking in favour of opting in, Marimpietri said by not allowing retail stores in the city, he feared it would send a negative message to the rest of the industry, including producers.

He also referenced Durham College, which has numerous programs tied to the cultivation and production of marijuana.

“How much more “no” can we say to industry, and expect more industry to come here,” he said.