Council To Decide on Retail Cannabis Stores

Kingston City Councillors will decide Tuesday night whether to allow retail cannabis stores in the Limestone City.

A report from city staff recommends allowing the cannabis stores, and allocating approximately $300,000 from the Ontario Cannabis Legalization Implementation Fund to Kingston Police and KFLA Public Health.

The report reads: "In order to bring a recommendation to Council, City staff have surveyed communities within provinces that have implemented operational private cannabis retail stores in October 2018. City staff also ran an online survey to obtain input from Kingston residents. Based on the seven (7) communities surveyed, very few concerns were noted with the implementation of cannabis retail stores. The biggest concern identified by communities was the lack of availability of cannabis to properly operate cannabis retail stores. Furthermore, City staff compiled results from an online survey which ran from November 22nd to December 12th. The survey results show that 85.1% of respondents either somewhat support or strongly support cannabis retail stores in Kingston. Details on the survey results and information obtained from other communities are also included in the Options/Discussion section of this report.

The provincial government announced the Ontario Cannabis Legalization Implementation Fund (OCLIF) which will support with the implementation of cannabis legislation. Based on the information provided by the province, it is anticipated that the City of Kingston will receive approximately $300,000 for implementation costs if it is to allow cannabis retail stores as of April 1, 2019. Additional funding may be provided to municipalities that choose to allow cannabis retail stores as of April 1st, depending on Ontario’s share of federal excise duty. The City’s funding level would be reduced to about $155,000 if the City decided to opt out of cannabis retail stores for April 1st. This funding allocation estimate is based on the number of households located within the City of Kingston. City staff have reached out to Kingston Police and Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Public Health to obtain updated information related to the costs of cannabis legalization. Based on this information, it is proposed that provincial funding could be reallocated to public health education campaigns as well as police training and equipment acquisition. Details of the potential funding allocation are included in the Options/Discussion section of this report. Staff have reviewed all information included in this report and are recommending that Council allow cannabis retail stores in Kingston as of April 1, 2019. Recreational cannabis has been legal and available online to all residents of Kingston since October 2018. The City and KFL&A Public Health have received few complaints since its legalization. The absence of cannabis retail stores in Kingston could continue to encourage the underground illegal market and create more challenges from a police enforcement perspective. Cannabis retail stores would not only create better and safer access for consumers but would also create new jobs, additional commercial taxes and additional provincial funding for cannabis legalization. City staff are also recommending that a cannabis policy statement be approved to provide necessary input for future cannabis retail site applications."

A recent city survey found that 85 per cent of respondents supported the presence of retail cannabis stores in Kingston.

Click here to read the full report.