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County of Renfrew discusses new cannabis act

By Celina Ip

Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia Network

Photo by Gavin Young/Postmedia Network

COUNTY OF RENFREW – The County of Renfrew is preparing for the impending legalization of recreational marijuana across Canada later this year.

In early 2017, a groundbreaking shift in policy set the stage for the legalization of cannabis for recreational use in Canada, which the Canadian government indicates will occur no later than July 1, 2018.

By the end of 2017, on Dec. 12, Bill 174 – otherwise known as ‘Cannabis, Smoke-Free Ontario and Road Safety Statute Law Amendment Act, 2017’, received royal assent.

Bill 174 is omnibus legislation enacting the ‘Cannabis Act, 2017’ and the ‘Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation Act, 2017’ which will regulate the cultivation, sale, distribution and consumption of cannabis in Ontario. It also enacts the ‘Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017’ and makes amendments to the ‘Highway Traffic Act’ relating to impairment by cannabis and road safety.

In preparation for the changes that will take place as a result of the legislation, the County of Renfrew has been assisting local municipalities by providing electronic updates to discuss the approaches that they will be taking.

Those updates have included medical and legal reports regarding ‘Cannabis and the Workplace’ as well as the proposal of policy changes, in relation to forthcoming legalization of recreational marijuana.

“There has been a lot of assent and it appears that it's going to move forward, so we're operating on the principal that it may,” said Bruce Beakley, County of Renfrew human resources director. “And in the event that it may, it could alter and change existing policies in terms of its practices.”

As these correspondences and reports have generated further questions among local municipalities, the County of Renfrew’s Human Resources Department has invited representatives from all municipalities to take part in a workshop on Jan. 29 at the County of Renfrew’s office (9 International Dr., Pembroke).

Along with discussing ‘Bill C-45: An Act Respecting Cannabis and to Amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts’, the workshop will also report on ‘Bill C-44: An Act to Implement Certain Provinces of the Budget Tabled in Parliament on March 22, 2017’ and ‘Bill 148: Ontario’s Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017’.

“We're putting together a workshop and inviting local municipalities to tell them what we're planning on a County of Renfrew level in terms of the appropriate policy changes we may want to look at – some of those are our substance abuse policies, some of those policies might be directly related to benefits and those types of things,” said Beakley. “We’re here to help and that’s why we invited all of the management members of the various 17 local municipalities and their elected officials.”

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