Staff report recommends Kitchener opt in on hosting cannabis shops

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WATCH ABOVE: As Canadians prepare to ring in 2019, many will be reflecting on or even consuming this country's newly legal party enhancer: marijuana. Back in October, the federal government rolled out legislation allowing Canadians to legally purchase cannabis. But as Robin Gill reports, there are still some potholes in the road ahead – Dec 31, 2018

Kitchener city council will vote Monday on whether to opt in or out of having private cannabis retail stores operate within its boundaries.

The province has given municipalities until Jan. 22 to make a decision on whether to opt in or out of having bricks-and-mortar cannabis stores.

A report prepared by city staff recommends Kitchener opt in, as “cannabis is now a legal substance, similar to alcohol and tobacco, and should not be treated differently.”

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The report also says that by opting in, the retail cannabis stores “would help achieve the objectives of protecting youth, protecting health and safety and limiting illicit activity.”

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The report’s authors believe the city will see an increase in activity on the black market if Kitchener does not opt in for the stores.

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However, opting in does not guarantee that a retail cannabis store would open in Kitchener.

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In December, the Ontario government announced that it would only open 25 stores across the province for its initial run in April.

In addition, there is a limit of seven stores that would be allowed to open across West Region, which spreads from Georgian Bay to Sarnia to Niagara Falls.

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Ontario could announce the results of a lottery to apply for the first 25 retail cannabis licences as early as Friday.

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The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which will regulate the province’s retail cannabis outlets, has said it will pick the winners randomly Friday, with the results expected to be announced within 24 hours.

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The province will also hand out $40 million across the province to help deal with the transition to retail pot shops. Kitchener will receive $122,743 in the first instalment whether it opts in or out but will not be eligible for a second payment if it opts out.

—With files from the Canadian Press

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