Moose Jaw City Council will not stand in the way of legal cannabis dispensaries when it becomes legal later this year. Council heard from residents over the last few weeks after we brought you the story of Mayor Fraser Tolmie considering an option for communities to decline retail permits, two are earmarked for Moose Jaw.
At the time, Tolmie said that he wanted to hear from residents whether or not such a business would be welcome here. Cities have until the end of February to let the province know and Monday night, residents were given a chance to speak up.
"I was born with a debilitating, chronic pain disorder that affects me every day of my entire life." said Adele Derksen, one of a handful of residents who spoke at council. "Marijuana is the only alternative. It's either very powerful opiate drugs or drugs that are going to make me drowsy, knock me out for days at a time or make it so that I can't keep to a schedule and can't work."
Dennis Johnson was another medical user who spoke in favour of retail outlets saying his life wouldn't be the same without access to cannabis.
"I've been using it for about five years now and the doctor was going to prescribe opiates for me. I have four different injuries to my spine and my doctor is surprised that I'm still working."
Not a single presenter was against the idea of legal dispensaries although Mayor Tolmie says he did have dozens of letters against the idea. A Facebook survey asking what residents thought about the possibility of two retail outlets being located in Moose Jaw showed 84% support for the idea of having legal retail outlets and for Rece Allen, economics are something he wanted council to consider.
"As with any legitimate business, we should not only allow but encourage them to open and operate here then let the market decide if the business is to be successful. Failure to allow legal sales will only give residents and tourists more reason to head outside of our city."
While council will allow the process to continue, they must now wait for Ottawa and the province to get their ducks in a row before drafting local bylaws regarding business permits and locations for possible storefronts. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appears to be pulling back from his stance on having legislation in place for July 1st.
In an interview with French media, Trudeau says he doesn't know where the date came from saying they never promised to legalize cannabis by Canada Day, simply that they are shooting for summer 2018.
Press releases, statements by the Prime Minister and other government officials have all pointed to July 1st or have specifically said no later than July 2018 as the date they were working toward, at least until the change in tone in recent days. Provincial officials have long stated that there was no way they could be ready for a July launch with the way Ottawa was taking their time to roll out their portion of the new rules.