A unanimous vote by Dutton Dunwich council has paved the way for the local legalized sale of marijuana.
Under provincial provisions, the municipality had until Jan. 22 to decide whether to opt in or out of becoming a willing host for a pot retail store.
The motion represents a U-turn from where the former council stood in September 2017.
That council went on record that it wanted no part of recreational weed sold in the community under any government plan.
“It’s a new council and a lot more education,” Mayor Bob Purcell told The Chronicle.
“It’s still a moving target and remember we had that deadline,” he added.
Municipalities that opt into the system will receive some financial payment from the province.
But Purcell said the contradiction between the two councils’ decisions is more about knowing the facts and less about the compensation.
“We now understand that the best way to have control and be able to put some rules in place, specific to our municipality, is within the system,” the mayor said.
Council directed staff to prepare a draft policy statement for consideration at a future meeting.
Purcell asked the municipal planner to investigate policies other communities are adopting.
“Take the most restrictive one you can find in the province and give us that as a draft, because it’s easier to back things out then it is to try to remember what to put in,” the mayor said.
Planner Tracey Pillon-Abbs said she will provide council a summary of procedures to consider at the next council meeting.
The summary will include legislative requirements and engaging residents for their input.
Even though council has opted into the Ontario cannabis retail outlet program, the province has already stated there is a very limited supply of recreational marijuana, suggesting businesses aren’t likely to be popping up in any rural Ontario community in the near future.