Sarnia Police Chief Norm Hansen Blackburn News Sarnia File photo (By Melanie Irwin)

Chief says no winner in pot lottery

As the province prepares for the second legal pot shop lottery to begin next month, Sarnia’s police chief thinks there has to be a better way.

Sarnia-Lambton was denied a store in the first lottery in January. Windsor and Chatham-Kent were also left out, while London received three licences to open stores.

The only other place to legally purchase recreational marijuana is through the online Ontario Cannabis Store.

Chief Norm Hansen said allowing more legal dispensaries would help reduce the number of illegal shops popping up, easing the pressure on municipal police forces.

“Whether you’re on the pro or anti-cannabis side it really doesn’t matter, the fact is the government legalized it,” said Hansen. “To me, they’ve made it very difficult for legal shops to open up. I don’t understand why it’s a lottery. If you have the means and the desire to open a business, open a business. I don’t understand why they made it so difficult, and by making it this difficult they’ve encouraged the illegal dispensaries.”

Chief Hansen said the limited access to legal cannabis puts more pressure on police forces having to deal with illegal operations.

“The analogy that I would put forth is, if suddenly tomorrow the government only allowed one liquor store or one access to liquor or beer from London, to Windsor to Chatham to Sarnia, what would happen? Illegal booze cans would open up just like the days of prohibition,” said Hansen. “Then we would be saddled with enforcing that. If there were more legal dispensaries, I think it would help us and help the area.”

The next lottery is being held in August, with 17 municipalities in the running for 11 outlets regionally.

Eight licences have been set aside for First Nations communities.

To apply click here.