Article by Dave Dawson, Orillia Matters
Orillia city councillors have a big decision to make in January.
Orillia, like all Ontario municipalities, must decide by Jan. 22 if it wants to get into the pot business.
Bill 36 legalized the sale of recreational cannabis. Since Oct. 17, Ontarians have had the ability to purchase pot through the Ontario Cannabis Store’s website.
But as of April 1, 2019, people will also have the option to purchase recreational cannabis at licensed retail operations – but only in municipalities that “opt in” to the province’s plan.
Shawn Crawford, the city’s manager of legislative services, told council committee Monday night that he would be bringing a detailed report, along with a draft bylaw on the matter, to the Jan. 14 council meeting.
“Municipalities have the ability to opt out,” noted Crawford, adding council has the “ability to ban cannabis stores in Orillia.”
If council chooses to opt out, it can, at any time, change its mind. However, if council votes to opt in, it cannot later change its mind, Crawford noted.
Retail cannabis stores, he stressed, will be licenced by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. Citizens and the municipality will have a 15-day period to weigh in on any licence request.
However, Crawford noted the municipality has virtually no power in the process if it opens the door to retail operations.