City votes in favour of private cannabis retailers

Storefronts to open in Kingston beginning April 2019

Private cannabis retail stores are coming to Kingston after Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
During their bi-weekly meeting, Council agreed to notify the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) that the City of Kingston will permit the operation of private cannabis retail stores as of April 1. 
Following the legalization of recreational cannabis on Oct. 17, the provincial government pledged to allow for its sale by private retail stores throughout Ontario starting April 1—licensed and monitored by the AGCO throughout the province.
The provincial government has allowed municipalities to decide whether they will permit private retailers to operate in their communities. Municipalities have until Jan. 22 to pass a resolution, or it will be automatically assumed they have opted in to the operation of future cannabis retail stores.
Council’s decision follows the chief administrative officer’s recommendation that Kingston opt-in to the province-wide motion. The suggestion included opening private cannabis retail stores.
The recommendation was backed by the results of an online survey conducted by City staff, which was available to the public from Nov. 22 until Dec. 12. The survey reached 2,027 individuals. 
The results indicated that 85.1 per cent of respondents either somewhat or completely supported cannabis retail stores in Kingston. While many respondents also expressed they had no concerns regarding the physical establishment of cannabis retail stores in Kingston, others were concerned about the proximity to sensitive land uses, such as daycares and schools.
City staff also contacted seven municipalities that have already have private cannabis retailers, including Calgary and Winnipeg, to analyze the impact that this motion will have 
on the community. 
They found there were very few complaints from the public regarding the operation of private retailers, noting that private stores largely surpass regulatory requirements because of concerns their licenses will be revoked. 
They were unable to determine the impact that private retailers had on underground markets.
The City anticipates receiving approximately $300,000 to cover implementation costs. To aid municipalities, the provincial government has established the Ontario Cannabis Legalization Implementation Fund (OCLIF) to provide financial support to communities that allow private cannabis retailers. 
Council plans to use this funding primarily for a public health campaign, police training and equipment—specifically, $77,000 to KFL&A Public Health and $207,000 to Police Services. The remainder is to be used by the City for miscellaneous costs associated with implementation. 
As of Dec. 13, the Ontario government announced a temporary cap of 25 authorized retailers until cannabis supply is stabilized.
Kingston follows thirteen other municipalities that have opted-in to the provincial program, including Toronto and Ottawa. City staff will prepare a formal response to the AGCO in the upcoming weeks, outlining Kingston’s approach to implementationbased on municipal cannabis policies.

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