Cannabis retail decisions
polar opposite results
By Mike Williscraft
When the smoke cleared Monday night, Grimsby council had opted out and Lincoln council had opted into to having potential cannabis retail stores within their municipalities.
The Province had given municipalities until Tuesday, Jan. 22, to decide.
West Lincoln council voted to opt out in December.
Both decisions were decisive, in opposite directions with Grimsby voting 8-1 and Lincoln voting 7-2.
Comments around the Grimsby council table were virtually all negative.
Coun. Reg Freake cited a host of crime statistics which has skyrocketed in Denver, Colo. after cannabis was legalized there.
Coun. Dave Sharpe outlined his skepticism regarding potential revenues from an excise tax program outlined as part of the incentive to have municipalities opt in.
“I was trying to express tonight with all those numbers that 25 licensed cannabis stores would have to sell massive amounts of cannabis to reach the $100 million in excise tax and we don’t even get any money until they surpass that amount. Even if 100-200 stores were licensed, each store would still have to move quite a lot of product to bring in $100 million in excise tax for the Province, never mind surpass it,” said Sharpe after the meeting.
“I think it might be more realistic with 400-500 licensed retail stores or more, and I will not be surprised if every municipality that opts-in will get a retail license within a much shorter period than expected.”
Coun. Randy Vaine, the lone vote in favour, said council was being “short-sighted” in its decision, noting society will look back in a few years wondering what all the fuss was – on top of missing out on government funding.
While Grimsby’s discussion was part of a regular council agenda, Lincoln held a special council meeting to make its decision.
While Lincoln voted in
favour of allowing retail outlets, the approval came with a request to the Province for greater regulatory control and input for location of stores, advertising and signage, hours of operation, restrict or prohibit operations violating local by-laws, and number of stores within Lincoln.
Only communities with a population over 50,000 were eligible for a lottery for an initial 25 cannabis retail locations. It is not known when additional licenses will be available.
By opting in, Lincoln will receive approximately $12,000 in funding from the Province to assist with implementation costs of cannabis legalization.
“Cannabis is legal for recreational use and sale in Canada,” stated Mayor Sandra Easton.
“Council has opted in as we continue building public policy that creates opportunity for prosperity in Lincoln. Council is committed to balancing these economic drivers with citizen concern and is working with the Province for more local control and regulation.”