Potential cannabis sales will be legal in Assiginack

ASSIGINACK—At its first meeting of the year, Assiginack council decided to opt-in to allow for cannabis retail sales in the municipality.

Councillor Hugh Moggy began the discussion, saying “I’ve had a difficult time with this but have come to the conclusion that this is the right thing to do. I think we might as well be there,” he said of opting in.

Ontario municipalities have until January 22 to opt out of allowing cannabis retails sales in their community. All municipalities received $5,000 late last year and will receive another $5,000 this month, regardless of whether they opted in or out. These funds are to be spent on any increase to paramedic, fire or police services, bylaw enforcement or policy development. 

Opting out, however, shuts municipalities out of Ontario’s share of the federal government’s excise tax share of any surplus of more than $100 million moving forward. Many municipalities have argued that the increased costs will remain, whether they opt in or out.

Currently, the only legal way to purchase cannabis in Ontario is online through the Ontario Cannabis Store but by April 1, 25 brick and mortar stores are expected to be open via an Alcohol Gaming and Commission of Ontario lottery, which will take place this Friday, January 11. 

Strangely, Manitoulin Island has been included in the Western Ontario portion of the province, including Dufferin-Wellington, Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand-Norfolk, Brant, Waterloo, Perth, Oxford, Chatham-Kent, Essex, Lambton, Middlesex, Huron, Bruce and Grey, which has been allotted seven stores in the lottery.

Northern Ontario has been allotted two stores in Friday’s lottery.