LaSalle Says No to Retail Pot Shops

LaSalle is joining Lakeshore and Tecumseh in opting out of offering cannabis retail shops.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit and town administration recommended opting out and council followed suit with a vote of 5-2 with deputy mayor Crystal Meloche and councillor Mike Akpata calling for the town to opt in.

Akpata spent 21-years with the Windsor Police Service and says, while he locked plenty of people up over the years for pot, the plant is now legal — no different than alcohol or tobacco.

Akpata says if people want cannabis, they're going to get it.

"Most of my life has been enforcing laws and making sure the public and the people are safe. As it is legal, whether we do not choose to use marijuana or we choose to, the simple fact is I can go online and order as much cannabis as I want. So we did not stop cannabis being consumed or used in the municipality of LaSalle."

He says opting out isn't going to keep cannabis out of the community as it's readily available on the provincial government's website.

"Putting on the old police hat, if you want it you will find it, and if you can't get it lawfully you'll get it illegally. If I was a supplier, I didn't get rid of my rolodex of clients and they simply call me now when the mail delivery is late."

AM800-NEWS-LaSalle-council-Mike-Akpata-January-8-2019

LaSalle councillor Mike Akpata after a council meeting on January 8, 2019 (Photo by AM800's Zander Broeckel)

Akpata says the town shouldn't be saying no to business.

"We could have acknowledged the fact that it's legal and that I would be disappointed in us if we ever turned down a lawful, legal business that will generate revenue and supply something that people want. We could have the nicest cannabis store and if they didn't do any business they'd close and move."

Thus far, Leamington is the only local municipality to opt in.

With the January 22 deadline quickly approaching, Windsor, Amherstburg, Essex and Kingsville are yet to make a decision.

The province will use a lottery to distribute the first round of retail licenses to 25 municipalities with populations higher than 50,000.

The lottery winners will be announced this Friday.

Retail pot shops can legally operate in Ontario on April 1.