News Cannabis on the agenda SHARE ON: Rosalind Russell, staff Tuesday, Dec. 4th, 2018 Recreational cannabis is now legal in Canada. Photo supplied Blind River is just the latest new municipal councils to grapple with whether to allow cannabis stores in the community. Blind River council decided Monday it will carry out a survey and host a town hall meeting. The survey will focus on five key areas of concern; location, odour issues, underage use, the potential for an increase in crimes and illegal selling. A public forum is also slated for January 7th at 6:00pm in council chambers. The private stores will be regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which will establish processes for the stores to open and operate in cities where they are permitted. The commission will be responsible for licensing cannabis store operators, subject to criminal and financial eligibility checks, a process that begins December 17. Once an operator applies for a specific location, the commission will be the ones who issue a licence to operate, as well as the store retail managers and others in senior positions. Once an application is received, the commission will give city council and the public 15 days to offer input to “hear concerns from the local community.” “The public notification of a proposed cannabis retail site will also be posted on the building and on the AGCO’s website,” the report said. Cannabis stores will be zoned the same as other retail outlets, with a few added restrictions. For example, they should be at at least 150 metres from schools, and a municipality must prepare a policy statement identifying “locally sensitive considerations for uses, to best represent the expectations of the community,” the report said. “Note that there is no regulatory requirement for the AGCO to act on the municipal input,” the report said. “There is no cap on the number of storefronts, leaving it to market demand to decide locations and the number of stores. “A market concentration limit of 75 stores per operator has been set to prevent a high degree of market consolidation, promote opportunities for small businesses and promote investment in the cannabis retail sector.” Other restrictions include no one under age 19 can enter the stores, no one associated with organized crime or who has a criminal record for illegally selling pot can open a store, they must be standalone stores and can only open from 9:00am to 11:00pm. Municipalities have until January 22nd to decide if cannabis store operations can be set up in individual communities with openings planned for April, 2019.