The province of Ontario has introduced a cannabis retail plan that will allow private retailers (who have met security, building and financial requirements) to participate in the legal market. For the most part this plan seems inclusive and is a welcomed change. The province is also allowing individual municipalities to add additional requirements that work best in their own community (safe distances from schools and parks for example). This is great because every community is different and it's important to consider the unique needs each has.
There is only one problem:
The municipality has the power to OPT OUT of legal bricks-and-mortar sales (forcing the people of Kingston to either order online or go to the black market). This is basically a continuation of prohibition within Kingston. The Mayor of Kingston, Bryan Paterson, has also said that he would be willing to opt out of cannabis sales unless the province provides more clear guidance about what Kingston can and cannot do.
Opting out of cannabis retail stores would negatively affect Kingston residents in the following ways:
Responsible adults would not be able to purchase any legal cannabis products in person, at a store anywhere in Kingston. The only option for legal cannabis access would be online ordering or black market access (which is quicker and more efficient). Adults must have convenient and reasonable access to cannabis.
Kingston's youth will continue to have open and illegal access to cannabis if a thriving black market exists. Youth under 19 years would be restricted from even entering licensed cannabis stores, but the black market is less discriminating.
Forcing an online only retail system is exclusionary and elitist. Adults who are unable to purchase online for whatever reason (no computer, no credit card, etc.) will have no legal access to cannabis and be forced to purchase from the black market.
Tourists will avoid our beautiful city if they are unable to access safe legal cannabis while they are here. We are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful city with convenient access to Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and the United States. Tourists will be less interested in coming to a dry city. Restaurants, hotels, and businesses of all kinds will miss out on this tourist economy.
Small, privately owned businesses will miss out on a huge economic opportunity and be unable to participate in the legal market. There are already several cannabis accessories retailers in convenient locations throughout Kingston. These are responsible business owners who are prepared to go through extensive background and financial checks to qualify. These retailers know the products being sold and have the expertise to guide cannabis purchases (super important in a new market).
Opting out of legal cannabis sales is opting into illegal cannabis sales.