Public School Board Wants To Distance Students From Pot Shops

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The Greater Essex County District School Board doesn't want cannabis retail stores near its students.

The latest legislation rolled out by the Doug Ford PCs has set a minimum distance of 150-metres — a major decrease from the previous Liberal government's 500-metre limitation.

Trustee Jessica Sartori says she and other trustees have been hearing from concerned parents wondering if the board can take action in any way.

She says, at this point, the board has more questions than answers as to why the change was made.

"I had asked the question if anybody knew what the basis of that was, where that came from? They didn't really have an answer and I think that's really part of the issue right now. We don't understand why that change was made."

Sartori says, while there isn't a clear right answer, 150-metres is far too close.

"My understanding from parents is that they would definitely prefer a farther distance. What that ideal distance is, I'm not sure. It's almost more of a philosophical question rather than has somebody measured out and studies what are the best distances. I don't think that anybody really knows."

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Trustee with the Greater Essex County District School Board, Jessica Sartori (Photo by Ricardo Veneza)

Trustees have directed the board to send a letter to all levels of government asking for clarification.

Sartori says trustees would like municipalities to have more say as well.

"There's really not much opportunity for the municipality to have much control over the location. Once you sign on, if that's what a municipality chooses to do, then it's not up to the municipality to decide where the stores go."

Under the new regulations, cannabis stores can be open seven days a week between 9am and 11pm and you must be at least 19-years-old to enter.

Municipalities have until January 22, 2019 to make a decision on whether or not to allow the shops which can legally operate in Ontario on April 1, 2019.