Statement from Mayor Chris Friel in response to provincial announcement to manage federal legalization of cannabis:
As someone who has spent the last 12 months consulting with advocate groups, small business owners, farmers, lawyers and countless constituents, I am frustrated and deeply disappointed with the provincial government’s suggested approach to managing federal legalization of cannabis in the province of Ontario. The LCBO model is a monopoly controlled by the province. This proposed model fails to take into consideration opportunities for entrepreneurs and small business, as well as agricultural interests. Not only does this model eliminate potential economic development and entrepreneurship opportunities for municipalities, it burdens them with having to manage the strain on already maxed out resources, to deliver municipal social services, healthcare services and law enforcement, without any of the powers to regulate.
The announcement made today referenced stakeholder consultation and public engagement. As Chair of the AMO Task Force on Marijuana Legalization, I provided substantial feedback to our provincial partners that is diametrically opposed to the model proposed today. How and why was that feedback not considered? Given the vital role public engagement plays in the development of any new government initiative, I think it’s incumbent on the Ministries to release the results of the public consultation that informed this strategy, specifically the law enforcement table, so that the public and local leaders can understand the rationale that led to today’s announcement. This process was not a dialogue, it was a download. I implore the provincial government to also consider the voices outside of Toronto and Ottawa when making such an important decision that will dramatically impact all municipalities in Ontario.