Mayor Fenik wants to opt-out of recreational cannabis sales in Perth for a year; it’s not his decision to make — it will have to be made by the incoming council — but if he is re-elected, that’s what he wants to do.
Recreational online pot sales are coming October 17. At a recent Association of Ontario Municipalities (AMO) workshop, Fenik learned, among other information, that: adults can carry 30 gm., four plants are allowed per household, there will be no consumption in public places, municipalities are entitled to some fine revenue, and there will be a great deal of public education focussing on harm reduction for young offenders to move them out of the path of using cannabis.
Municipalities have been offered a “one-time $40,000,” Fenik said, to be used as they see fit, even if they have opted-out or -in. But there are still many questions: who’s going to take on the role of cannabis misuse, who’s going to enforce local by-laws, who’s going to deal with public complaints, what will the cost be?
“Plants are big,” Fenik says, “…with a big odour.” He poses a question — if someone is growing six plants (and only allowed four), who’s going to ask them to dig up two?
Fenik continues with his enumeration: POA court costs will increase, there could be a public health problem, what about illegal storefronts.
“The sky’s not going to fall with legalization,” he says, “but I’m going to be recommending (if I’m fortunate enough to return to the new council), that we opt-out for a year. There are lessons to be learned from other municipalities [who have opted-in],” he adds. “If we opt-in eventually, we will limit the number of stores, it will have to be done tastefully, and we will have to look at the issues of control, and by-law. We would design a bylaw that works for Perth — number of stores, zoning away from daycares, away from schools, with follow up support for young people. The decision to opt-in or opt-out will be made in December,” he says. “Let’s make haste slowly.”
Councillor Graff, chair of the Police Services Board, after discussions with OPP Inspector Derek Needham, agreed it wouldn’t hurt to wait until good technology, similar to breathalyser tests for alcohol detection, is available. “It’s good sense to opt out.”