CK opts in to recreational pot shops

Photo of marijuana plant courtesy of © Can Stock Photo Inc. / EpicStockMedia

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent has officially chosen to opt in to having retail cannabis stores.

Council voted 17-1 on Monday night to allow private marijuana sales in the municipality. Councillor Doug Sulman was the only councillor to vote against the motion.

“If we opt out of it people are still going to buy it somewhere. If they don’t get it at the retail stores, they might just continue to get it on the black market and if they do that they don’t know what quality of marijuana they will be getting and it may be laced with other things. The safest way is to have it regulated,” Councillor Joe Faas told Blackburn News after the meeting.

Municipalities across the province have until January 22 to choose whether they want to opt in or out of the retail storefronts.

Those that choose to opt in will receive some of the $15 million in provincial funding that Ontario has committed to providing to help municipalities handle the legalization of recreational marijuana. Municipalities who chose to opt out will only receive $5,000 should they choose to opt in at a later time.

The Ontario government announced last week that they will have to limit the number of brick and mortar pot shops due to a cannabis “severe supply shortage.”

The original plan to allow an unlimited number of pot shops across the province has since been changed to only allowing 25 operator licenses for private pot sales during the initial phase. The licenses would be handed out through a lottery system. Bruce McAllister of the Chatham-Kent Planning Services said the likelihood of the municipality getting a license is low.

Currently, the only legal way for Ontarians to buy marijuana is through the Ontario Cannabis Store website. The sale of marijuana in licenced retail stores will be legal starting on April 1, 2019.