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Hamilton public school board chair voices concerns on marijuana stores

The province of Ontario plans to set up roughly 150 standalone cannabis stores by 2020.
The province of Ontario plans to set up roughly 150 standalone cannabis stores by 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

The chair of the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board is adding his voice to those concerned about the location of provincial cannabis stores when recreational marijuana is legalized later this year.

Todd White said he believes it’s not as simple as saying they should be at least a kilometre away from schools.

READ MORE: Ontario government says it won’t put LCBO-run cannabis stores near schools

He said a kilometre from a school in Flamborough, where there’s little development, is quite different that a kilometre from a school in downtown Hamilton where there are “superstores and strip malls all over the place.”

LISTEN: Todd White, Hamilton Wentworth District School Board chair, joins The Bill Kelly Show
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He also pointed out that being a certain distance from a school isn’t effective if the students walk by the pot stores on their way to class.

“Depending on how a community is situated, it could just be on that regular route to school where 90 per cent of your kids walk,” he said.

White said he also has questions about what products will be available, and what the storefronts will look like.

READ MORE: Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne wants answers on Toronto cannabis store location

The province has indicated it will involve school boards in decisions around the locations of the pot stores, but White said he doesn’t believe that goes far enough.

“What about the resources for having conversations with students around mental health and addiction?” he said.

READ MORE: Legal marijuana stores may provide ‘a very polished experience’

White said the board is currently working on ways of having those discussions in the classroom.

Hamilton was not on the list of the first locations of the pot shops announced in early April. The Liquor Control Board of Ontario and the Ontario Cannabis Store announced the locations will be in Guelph, Kingston, Toronto and Thunder Bay.

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Forty stores are expected to open this year and another 40 by July of next year. In total, the province plans to set up roughly 150 standalone cannabis stores by 2020.

READ MORE: LCBO releases logos for ‘Ontario Cannabis Store,’ and people are underwhelmed

Ontario was the first province to announce a detailed plan to sell and distribute recreational marijuana and will set the legal age to purchase it at 19.

The federal government introduced legislation last April with a goal of legalizing and regulating the use of recreational pot by this summer, but left it up to individual provinces to design their own distribution system and usage regulations.

-With files from The Canadian Press

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