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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Pot Shops: Orillia Council Committee Votes To Opt In

Orillia | by Ian MacLennan  

Councillors who voted in favour focused on community safety and to show Orillia was open for business.

Orillia councillors have voted in favour of opting in and allowing retail cannabis stores in the city.

The only opposition came from councillors Rob Kloostra and Tim Lauer.

The province has licensed 25 stores to open April 1 but only in municipalities with a population greater than 50,000.

The limit on licences is the result of a national shortage of cannabis.

Lauer's vote not to opt in wasn't so much anti-cannabis stores as it was his belief the province and federal government don't have a handle on what's going on.

He says the fact only 25 stores are opening indicates somebody misjudged the supply chain considerably.

Lauer said he doesn't believe there is a store headed for Orillia for at least a year or more,  and he added that his decision to opt out isn't for moral reasons,  but the city can opt in at anytime and it allows other municipalities that are opting in to deal with the provincial government.

Councillor Ralph Cipolla threw his support to retail cannabis outlets but qualified that by saying sales should have been left with the LCBO,  as was decided by the previous Liberal government.

Mayor Steve Clarke also voted to opt in saying his focus was on community safety.

The mayor said he had heard from police that buying illegally did not guarantee a safe supply of the drug and that the cannabis trade, for the most part, is currently in the hands of criminals.

Clarke also floated the money the province was offering to municipalities that opt in.

Councillor Mason Ainsworth says his mind was changed to opt in based on several factors including his shock that the Downtown Orillia Management Board supported retail cannabis stores.

Ainsworth said Orillia needs to say that the city is open for business.

He noted people are already having marijuana delivered to their homes, so those who are against this because they don't want people using pot isn't really a good argument.

Council committee's decision needs to be ratified next Monday.

Neighbouring municipalities,  Oro-Medonte,  Severn and Ramara,  have all decided to opt out,  while Barrie has signed on as a host.

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