County Council Decides to Give 80% of Pot Funding to Municipalities

Municipalities in Essex that opted in on cannabis sales will now receive 80% of the county's share of provincial funding.

The province earmarked $40-million over two-years to prepare communities for retail pot as part of the Cannabis Legalization Implementation Fund.

Essex County CAO Rob Maisonville says around 72,500 households made the county's share $92,400 in January.

The county took half of that cash and redistributed the rest to municipalities on a per-household basis.

Maisonville says the second and final installment for the county in February sits at just under $59,000 because three municipalities opted out, cutting the amount of eligible households to around 37,000.

He tells AM800 News the province automatically mandated 50% of the county's share go to municipalities, but gave council the authority to change that number as it sees fit — and council decided 80% of its cut is better used at the municipal level.

"The cost associated with implementation, we see it more on bylaw and police enforcement than we do at the county level. Obviously we have some costs associated with EMS and long-term care or just education of our staff," says Maisonville.

He tells AM800 News the province gave council the authority to change the split as they see fit ... and council decided 80% of that money is better used at the municipal level.

"We're comfortable with the funds we receive on a 20% basis as opposed to 50%, it's not a lot of dollars but there may be more dollars that flow as the sale of cannabis takes root."

Maisonville says it's not a lot of money, but it will still do some good.

"Bylaw enforcement costs at the local level will probably far exceed the allocation that they're receiving, but it's money that they require and it's a help, money in the right direction," he says.

Lakeshore, LaSalle and Tecumseh will each receive just $5,000 in the second wave of funding after choosing to opt-out of retail cannabis sales.

Maisonville says the county will use the same per-household formula to decide how much cash each municipality that opted-in will receive.

Windsor received $253,279 from the fund in January, and $309,900 in February, according to the Ministry of Finance's website.