Chatham-Kent getting ready for marijuana legalization

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A local municipal councillor wants Chatham-Kent to be “ahead of the curve” when it comes to preparing for the legalization of marijuana.

Chatham-Kent Councillor Doug Sulman’s motion for staff to prepare a report on its plan to handle the coming legalization of marijuana was approved unanimously at Monday night’s council meeting.

Topics to be addressed in the report include:

1. Enforcement: on public consumption and impaired driving
2. Public health and education
3. Business licensing (if there are lounges where marijuana is consumed)
4. Odour mediation and control (between neighbours and in social housing)
5. Land use planning (sales, production and consumption)
6. Employer/employee relations (Code of Conduct, medical use, while at work, etc)
7. Recreation areas (smoke-free)

Sulman says the anticipated legalization of the drug is going to be a big change for all Canada, but he’s most concerned with Chatham-Kent.

“It’s gonna have an impact on the way we operate — right from public health where I know that they’ll have some concerns about youth and marijuana,” he says. “You’re going to be allowed to have simple possession of marijuana, but you’re not going to be able to traffic and there will still be those kinds of issues.”

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Sulman says the report is solely to make sure Chatham-Kent is prepared when the time comes and legislation changes.

“Our staff still has to say ‘How is this going to impact the operation of the municipality and how is it going to affect the citizens within the municipality in their daily lives?'” says Sulman.

He says there are many things the municipality needs to consider in order to “be ahead of the curve.”

“Right now the way the legislation is, if it changed on July 1, you would be arrested in a city park for smoking a tobacco cigarette but not for smoking a [joint],” he says.

Sulman says “smoke is smoke” and residents have to think about how it impacts health.

The councillor adds that a forum will be held to gain public input on the topic at a council meeting sometime in June. He says the forum will likely be lead by the public health department.

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