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Cannabis legalization presents 'looming decision' for next city council in Thunder Bay

Oct 17, 2018 11:54AM ● By Editor
From CBC News · October 17, 2018

Recreational cannabis use is now legal in Canada, and Thunder Bay's city manager says the municipality is "as ready as [it] can be." 

The city has been working for months to prepare, said Norm Gale, but there are still uncertainties, including a matter that won't be settled until after the municipal election. 

"There are unanswered questions, and there's at least one looming decision for the next city council."

That decision is whether to opt in to having a private cannabis storefront in Thunder Bay. 

"One of the first things the next council will do is consider this question," said Gale, explaining that the choice must be made by Jan. 22. Cities that opt in are making a permanent decision, but those that decline initially can choose to opt in at a later date. 

City administration has been working to gather information to help council, when it comes time to make that decision, he said.

Many questions remain

The city has also been preparing in other ways, he said, including considering what information needs to be conveyed to the public about cannabis, such as the rules that have been set out by the province.  

But whether the city will take any further action to regulate the consumption of cannabis in public places, beyond what the province has set out, is still uncertain. 

"The province has determined that where one can smoke publicly tobacco, one can also smoke cannabis in the same place. The city may have the authority, and may choose to further restrict or limit, through bylaws, where cannabis can be smoked or consumed in a public place. That remains to be determined."

From the perspective of the municipality, Gale said the most challenging part of preparing for legalization, has been the uncertainty about financial implications, when it comes to things like enforcement, emergency response and social costs.

"I don't ... purport to say that this will lead to increased costs," he said. "I'm simply saying it's unknown." 

To see the original story, read related articles and hear an audio report, follow this link to the CBC News website.
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