Susan Myers Motion to prohibit cannabis retail access in Sault Ste. Marie failed spectacularly tonight at the Municipal Council meeting, City Hall.
Myers had asked Municipal Council to consider a motion that would see the municipality of Sault Ste. Marie engage in prohibition of the soon-to-be legalized product. (July 1, 2018)
Excerpt from Motion reads: “Now Therefore Be It Resolved that City Council goes on record opposing the opening of a retail cannabis outlet in our community.”
Not a single municipal councilor voted in favour of the motion, including the seconder, Sandra Hollingsworth.
Hollingsworth stated that she has researched the issue and is concerned that a prohibition would pose an ever bigger challenge to a criminal justice system already stretched beyond its limit. “When the criminal justice system is no longer arresting individuals for small amounts of cannabis, it will free up scarce police resources, and take business away from the illegal drug cartels, and illegal (street) drug trade. Prosecuting for these minor drug offenses (marijuana) is costly and burdens our criminal justice system.” she said.
Hollingsworth further stated that proceeds from the illegal drug trade pose a substantial risk to our communities as organized crime like human trafficking and harder drugs are already here.
Hollingsworth stated that she supports the medical use of marijuana but does have concerns about its recreational use.
“Too many Canadians have ended up with a criminal record for possessing small amounts of cannabis. A strict framework controlling the growth, sale and distribution of marijuana has been developed by the Federal government. Protecting the youth has been a priority of the Act (Cannabis Act – BILL C-45), including two new criminal offenses that take in the specific issue of youth.”
Councillor Shoemaker raised the issue of history and the Ontario Temperance Act of 1916. “Today, practically everybody agrees that prohibition was a mistake.” he said.
“The current state of affairs leaves cannabis buyers unaware of its source. 68% of youth under the age of 18 have tried marijuana. Regulation will ensure that minors are not allowed to purchase cannabis. There will be strict regulations around sourcing. We’re not the fun police.” shared Shoemaker. “It would be akin to us saying that we don’t want an LCBO in our community.”
“There’s an entire industry blossoming before us. Statistics show that Canadians want to purchase cannabis in a legal and regulated way.” said Councillor Christian, adding, “Some of the cannabis being sold on the streets can be laced with dangerous by-products, including (potentially) fentanyl. We’ll be telling people to go and buy a soon-to-be legal product in an illegal way.”
“It’s (cannabis) better accessed from a legal, standardized location.” stated Councillor Butland. “Sault Ste. Marie has received a lot of negative attention from the opoid crises. Do we want to be a municipality that says the way to handle opoid is to place prohibition on cannabis? I say no way. This will not improve our situation. It is not a strategy.”
Councillor Niro stated, “My biggest concern is that the sale of marijuana – if prohibited in The Sault – would continue to be in the hands of organized crime.”
Councillor Fata said, “I’m worried that a local prohibition would see Sault citizens – who head to Sudbury for shopping – would now have one more thing to pick up on their list.”
The City’s CAO – Al Horsman – stated that the city expects to have its first retail cannabis outlet sometime this summer.
For more information on The (Canadian) Cannabis Act, go here: http://www.marijuanalaws.ca/cannabis-act-bill-c-45.html