It’s official: Cannabis is legal and could soon be in a store near you

It’s official: Cannabis is legal and could soon be in a store near you

Cannabis. Marijuana. Pot. Weed. Hemp. Mary Jane. Ganja. Chronic. Dope. Grass.

Whatever you call it, it will soon be legally sold on Ontario’s streets. Gone are the days of smelling something skunky in public and thinking to yourself, “I know that smell … that is illegal!”

The Pot Prohibition was lifted in October 2018, as promised by the federal Liberal party in its 2015 election platform. Now, cannabis can be grown, sold, and used for recreational purposes legally from coast to coast, as long as you comply with government restrictions and policies, some of which are still being ironed out. Canada became the second country in the world to legalize the drug country-wide, after Uruguay.

Most recently, Haldimand Council voted 5-2 in favour of allowing cannabis retail stores in the municipality on January 21, 2019. While the County has agreed to allow the province to place cannabis stores in the municipality, it will be at least a year before an approved retailer would be in the region because the Ontario government has said the first 25 approved stores will be in urban centres with populations over 50,000.

An online survey by Haldimand County showed that 68% of survey participants were in favour of allowing cannabis stores in the county, while 24% wanted to opt-out and 7% wanted to opt-out for now but consider opting-in at a later date. This issue showed to be an important one to Haldimand residents, as the survey saw five times the number of respondents compared to the County survey on its new administration building, plus a number of written comments and delegations to the Council meeting. Having attended dozens of open houses and Council meetings, we can say with certainty how astounding the turnout was for this issue.

So, how do you feel about the issue?

While the decision has been made in Haldimand to allow retail stores, there will certainly still be people on both sides of the fence.

Some will argue that it will curb the illegal market by providing a guarantee of a regulated product, while others argue users will continue with their current dealers.

Some will argue there are multiple levels of financial incentives for legalizing, such as taxation, while other will argue those funds aren’t worth other drawbacks.

There are of course concerns over the availability to youth and the ability of police to enforce regulations, which likely will never cease to be a concern, considering ongoing issues with tobacco and alcohol in this respect. For instance, in Colorado, the first of the American states to legalize marijuana in 2014, there has been an increase in charges for impaired driving, but it’s not clear if this is because more drivers are driving high, or because there is better enforcement in place due to the legalization.

Over the holidays, we both saw marijuana edibles as part of our families’ gift exchanges. It makes you wonder, will this one day be just as common as giving a bottle of wine?

Socially, it’s still taboo in a lot of settings. Can you imagine seeing someone smoke up at an office work party? When, if ever, do you think it will be just as socially acceptable as having a beer or a glass of wine with friends, family, or co-workers?

If you’ve never tried marijuana for yourself, would you?

Right now, there seems to be more questions than answers. We want to know your thoughts. Let us know what you think about Haldimand joining in with the 337 other Ontario municipalities (414 total) who have decided to opt-in to retail cannabis sales. Send us a letter at publishers@haldimandpress.com.

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