An online survey conducted by Greater Sudbury found slightly more than 90 per cent of respondents wanted cannabis stores to be allowed in the city, rather than online sales only.
The Progressive Conservative government announced shortly after its June election win that the private sector will handle marijuana sales in Ontario, rather than going through the cannabis version of the LCBO.
Because of tight timeframes, when legalization became law in October, Ontario went with an online model only, with an eye on allowing private stores to open in April 2019 to serve the public.
Municipalities were given a choice whether to opt in to the new private model, or restrict local sales online. A decision for Sudbury is expected at city council's Dec. 11 meeting, with a January deadline from the province looming.
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 Dec. 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 a at least 150 metres from schools, and a municipal government 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 a.m.-11 p.m.
To help with the transition, the city will receive about $200,000 from a $15-million provincial fund early next year. Another $15 million will be provided to city that decide to allow cannabis stores to open.
A online survey by the city elicited 10,000 responses, including 6,500 from different IP addresses. Almost 91 per cent said they favoured stores over online-only marijuana sales. Another poll, by Oraclepoll, surveyed another 1,000 people. The results will be available by the Dec. 11 meeting.