Smiths Falls Council supports the relaxation of cannabis use rules

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According to Smiths Falls advice, Ontarians should be allowed to use cannabis products other than smoking or vaping in licensed establishments.

The council last week asked the provincial government to allow this.

Throughout the November 15 committee of the entire meeting, Smiths Falls Council received a delegation from Canopy Growth Corporation calling on city councils to encourage the province to allow private companies to sell edible cannabis products made by state-regulated licensed cannabis producers for their own use were produced.

Canopy Growth Corporation sought assistance in selling cannabis foods and beverages for on-site consumption in lounges, cafes, concerts, and festivals. However, it does not include the consumption of cannabis through smoking or vaporizing.

According to the presentation, both alcohol and cannabis are regulated by the Ontario Alcohol and Gambling Commission, and the plan could be achieved by amending existing legislation without additional bureaucracy by creating a new license class under the Liquor License Act.

Sean Webster, head of Canopy Growth, said cannabis is currently allowed to be consumed either at home or in a public place where permitted under the Smoke Free Ontario Act, but not in a bar, restaurant, or other licensed establishment may be.

“We believe it is desirable that consumers can consume these beverages in regulated facilities,” said Webster, adding that serving the products to minors is prohibited and under supervision.

Ontario is home to several state-regulated licensed manufacturers of cannabis beverages, including in Smiths Falls, Lansdowne, Belleville, and London, Webster noted.

Chris Bloore, president of the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario, said the organization supported cannabis tourism and law changes prior to the pandemic because there are “myriad opportunities that will overtake other destinations and other countries and provinces of Ontario if we don’t act will.”

According to the presentation, local use could attract cannabis tourism, open new business opportunities for Ontario entrepreneurs, promote economic recovery and protect cannabis users.

Any framework for local use will be aligned with the current government’s three goals related to cannabis legalization: protecting public health and safety, protecting young people and restricting their access to cannabis, and preventing illegal activity in terms of cannabis, said Michael Wilson of Goodmans LLP during the presentation.

“The council has received a draft resolution … to send a message to the province that this facility in Smiths Falls would be beneficial to the city for a variety of reasons,” said Webster.

Count. Wendy Alford said she had no qualms about moving the resolution forward, adding that the city has been involved in the planning and anticipation of cannabis tourism since it was legalized in 2018.

“I don’t see this as more harmful than alcohol, and I think it should be regulated the way alcohol is,” Alford said.

Mayor Shawn Pankow agreed with Alford, saying that “this is something that we have strongly supported”.

“Being the first in Canada would be a real feather in our cap,” added Coun. Jay Brennan.

The council endorsed the resolution and will send copies of it to Premier Doug Ford and other officials.

(Jessica Munro is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter working at Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.)