Perth mayor recommends town opt out of retail pot stores for a year

The mayor of Perth will be recommending his town opt out of retail pot stores for at least a year. John Fenik says there are just too many unknowns yet to make such an important decision.  Perth isn’t the only Ontario municipality considering opting out.

Several other municipalities want to see what's going to happen elsewhere first before committing to retail pot shops.  Ottawa will now rely on public consultation before it decides.Perth's mayor is on the run for re-election October 22, knocking on doors, but when it comes to retail pot stores, his message:  slow down.

“I'm going to be recommending to our council that we opt out for 12 months,” says Fenik, “and reassess how things are going and learn from other municipalities before we allow recreational marijuana in store fronts here in Perth.”

Perth isn't the only municipality looking to do this under the Ford government's one-time opportunity to opt-out of that private retail model.  Richmond Hill and several small municipalities around Toronto are also considering it.

Ottawa's mayor said just last month that opting out was unrealistic but today he said he is going to rely more on public input to frame Ottawa's policy.

“I can’t rule that out,” Jim Watson said when asked whether he would consider opting out of retail cannabis stores, “It will be public consultation first and foremost and then the new council will have to make that final decision.  We need to make that decision in January or February because the stores will potentially open in April.”

Ottawa mayoralty candidate Clive Doucet supports the retail sale model but suggests pharmacies sell it instead of stores.

“They sell a lot more dangerous stuff than cannabis,” says Doucet, “so why not start with drugstores and see how it goes for a couple years and then broaden it out.”

On the streets of Ottawa, public opinion is mixed on who should sell pot and where.

“I think they should wait and research it more,” says one woman.

Dhruv Pramod adds, “I feel they should open them up because people will find ways to get it anyway.”

“As the nation's capital,” says Owen Keleher, “we should be a trendsetter for the country.”

Sonya Dabir says, “I think it's wise to take our time and not rush into it.”

A Brad Lyons adds, “Perth, you'll just miss out.  Poor Perth.”

Of course with an election just weeks away, what decisions one council takes now could be reassessed in late October if the players around that council chamber change.