BURLINGTON – Today, Rick Goldring announced that if re-elected Mayor, he would work with the new Council to utilize the power given to municipalities by the Ontario government to opt-out of having cannabis stores in Burlington.
“The Ontario government announced in August that municipalities would be given power – a one-time chance to opt out of having cannabis stores in their community,” said mayoral candidate Rick Goldring. “With so much uncertainty, and with no clear regulatory framework yet -- including permitted locations, we just don’t have enough information to make an informed decision.”
Under the provinces opt-out provision, any municipality that chooses to opt-out can opt back in; but if you opt in, there is no opting-out later. So far Markham and Richmond Hill have indicated they would opt-out and neighbouring Oakville has signalled their intent to do so.
On August 23rd, Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli told the North Bay Nugget that, “a decision on whether to opt out of private retail cannabis stores in municipalities should be the very first act of new municipal councils.”
Here’s what we know so far:
- Cannabis is set to be legalized in Canada on October 17, 2018
- Starting October 17, Ontarians 19 years of age or older will be able to buy legal marijuana online through the Ontario Cannabis Store, a division of the LCBO
- Ontario will utilize a “private retail model” to sell cannabis in physical locations across the province beginning in early 2019
- The Ontario government has committed to providing $40 million over two years to help municipalities with costs related to legalization
- Cannabis use will be restricted to private residences, balconies and apartment/condo units if allowed by the landlord or condo association.
In advance of private-sector cannabis stores opening in the second quarter of 2019, the Ontario government is in the process of putting together the regulatory framework that will govern it.
“The Ontario government, not local Councils, will decide generally where, and specifically how, privately operated cannabis stores will be permitted in our community,” said Rick Goldring. “Opting-out will ensure that Burlington has local control over this important issue. Instead of being the guinea pig, Burlington can learn lessons from the roll-out of cannabis stores in other communities.”
“We know the province has committed to providing $40 million over two years to help municipalities with costs related to legalization,” said Goldring, “We also know that cannabis use will be restricted to private residences, balconies and apartment/condo units if allowed by the landlord or condo association.”
“The province has been very clear that new Councils will need to decide quickly after the election if they will opt-out of having cannabis stores in their community come 2019,” Goldring said, “With so much uncertainty, I firmly believe we need to keep our options open until the province flushes out the details.”
Cannabis Legalization Timeline
- In July 2001, Health Canada established regulations on access to cannabis for medical purposes.
- On May 27, 2003, Prime Minister Jean Chrétienintroduced a bill to decriminalize the possession for personal use of small amounts of cannabis. The bill died when Parliament was prorogued.
- In 2003 the American government's Drug Enforcement Administration, threatened to slow down border-crossings along the Canada–United States borderwith increased searches for cannabis.
- In November 2004, a similar decriminalization bill was introduced by the Paul Martin government. The bill died when the Martin government was defeated in a confidence vote.
- In the federal election of 2015, then Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, committed to legalizing cannabis.
- On April 13, 2017, a bill to legalize cannabis was introduced to Parliament. It would allow for national use by individuals 18 and over, and possession of 30 grams.
- In September 2017 then Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announces plans for the Ontario Cannabis Store, a division of the LCBO, to operate up to 150 retail locations across the province.
- In December 2017 the federal government announced that 75 percent of federal excise tax revenues from the sale of legalized cannabis would be given to provinces and territories.
- June 19, 2018, Canada’s Senate passed the bill to legalize cannabis.
- In July 2018, Ontario’s new government announced that instead of government run cannabis retail stores, private-sector stores would be rolled out instead. Online sales would start on October 17th with physical locations opening in 2019.
- In August 2018, the Ontario government announced municipalities would be given the power to opt-out of physical cannabis stores.