CONCEPTION BAY NORTH, NL - Municipal leaders in Conception Bay North's two largest towns expect to field requests from entrepreneurs looking to earn a dollar off the impending legalization of marijuana.
The topic of legalizing marijuana came up at Bay Roberts and Carbonear council meetings held Tuesday, Jan. 23. Bay Roberts Mayor Philip Wood and Chris O'Grady, Carbonear's acting mayor, both attended a meeting of Newfoundland and Labrador urban municipalities committee a few days prior to their respective council meetings.
Marijuana will be legal to sell and smoke under a variety of restrictions as of July 1, 2018.
"Cannabis, or marijuana legalization was a hot topic out there," Wood said, addressing fellow council members last Tuesday.
"We will treat any applications as normally you would a business application, if someone wants to sell a certain product."
In this province, the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation (NLC) is tasked with sourcing marijuana from Health Canada-certified companies growing the product for mass distribution. The NLC will also handle online sales and license retail marijuana shops.
Licensed retailers will also need to go directly to town councils and seek commercial permits to operate.
At the Carbonear council meeting, O'Grady said new regulations are expected regarding the minimum distance retailers must be from school zones.
"Be prepared for some development requests, as well as some conversation around where these places will be located," O'Grady said to fellow council members present at the meeting.
Wood noted there are some concerns about how public consumption of cannabis products will be dealt with. The province has indicated marijuana use will only be tolerated on private property.
"There is some thought that our local enforcement officers might be involved a little bit in (policing its consumption)," Wood said. "Some people wonder whether or not enforcement officers in towns will be called to different areas to ask people to abide by the regulations."
As is the case with alcohol, Newfoundland and Labrador has set the legal limit to purchase and consume marijuana at 19 years of age.
In smaller communities, NLC will have the right to establish a retail shop for selling cannabis products if there proves to be no private interest in doing so. The province has also indicated it will prohibit retailers selling marijuana from also distributing alcoholic products.
In December, the province announced a deal with the Canadian company Canopy Growth to help supply the NLC. The company already has facilities growing marijuana and committed to setting up one in Newfoundland and Labrador to produce an estimated 12,000 kilograms annually.
Canopy Growth will also set up four retail shops as part of the deal with government.
The province will still have the option to source product from other companies interested in supplying the NLC.