Smiths Falls council backs loosening of cannabis consumption rule
November 26, 2021 By Jessica Munro, Brockville Recorder and Times (Local Journalism Initiative)
Ontarians should be allowed to consume cannabis products, other than smoking or vaping, in licensed establishments, Smiths Falls council believes.
Council last week urged the provincial government to allow that to happen.
During the Nov. 15 committee of the whole meeting, Smiths Falls Council received a delegation from Canopy Growth Corporation, urging councillors to encourage the province to allow private businesses to sell edible cannabis products produced by federally-regulated licensed cannabis producers for on-premises consumption.
Canopy Growth Corp. sought support for the sale of cannabis food and beverages for on-premise consumption in lounges, cafes, concerts and festivals. However, it does not include consumption of cannabis through smoking or vaping.
According to the presentation, both alcohol and cannabis are regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, and the plan could be accomplished through an amendment to existing legislation without additional red tape, by creating a new class of license under the Liquor License Act.
Sean Webster, head of Canopy Growth, said cannabis is currently restricted to be consumed either at home or in a public place where permitted by the Smoke Free Ontario Act, but it cannot be consumed at a bar, restaurant or other licensed establishment.
“We think it would be preferable for consumers to be able to consume these beverages in establishments that are regulated,” said Webster, adding that service of the products to minors is prohibited and under supervision.
Ontario is home to a several federally-regulated licensed producers of cannabis beverages, including in Smiths Falls, Lansdowne, Belleville and London, noted Webster.
Chris Bloore, president of the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario, said the organization supported cannabis tourism and changes in legislation before the pandemic because there are “untold opportunities and opportunities that other destinations and other countries and provinces are going to get ahead of Ontario if we don’t take action.”
According to the presentation, on-premise consumption could attract cannabis tourism, add new business opportunities for Ontario Entrepreneurs, enhance economic recovery, and safeguard cannabis consumers.
Any framework for on-premises consumption will be guided by the current government’s three objectives with respect to cannabis legalization, which are protecting public health and safety, protecting youth and restricting their access to cannabis, and preventing illicit activities in relation to cannabis, said Michael Wilson of Goodmans LLP during the presentation.
“Council has been provided with a draft resolution to send a message to the province that having this ability to do this in Smiths Falls would be something the town would be favourable of for a variety of reasons,” said Webster.
Coun. Wendy Alford said she had no reservations in regards to moving forward with the resolution, adding that the town has been involved with planning and anticipating cannabis tourism since it was legalized in 2018.
“I don’t see this more any more harmful than alcohol has been and I think it should be regulated like how alcohol is,” said Alford.
Mayor Shawn Pankow agreed with Alford and said that “this is something we’ve been strongly supportive of.”
“To be the first in Canada would be a real feather in our cap,” added Coun. Jay Brennan.
The council supported the resolution and will send copies of it to Premier Doug Ford and other officials.
Jessica Munro is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Print this page