City in limbo as province sorts out pot plan, mayor says

The City of Ottawa is still in a haze when it comes to preparing for the legal sale of cannabis on Oct. 17, 2018, especially now that the province's plan to regulate pot sales could go up in smoke.

Premier-designate taking another look at predecessor's plan for LCBO-style marijuana stores

Mayor Jim Watson says Ottawa, like most cities in Ontario, is unready for the legal sale of cannabis in October 2018. (CBC)

The City of Ottawa is still in a haze when it comes to preparing for the legal sale of cannabis on Oct. 17, 2018, especially now that the province's plan to regulate pot sales could go up in smoke.

Ottawa, like other Ontario cities, can't do much until Queen's Park decides how to proceed, Mayor Jim Watson said.

"We still don't know where the first legal dispensary is going to be, we still have a number of pop-ups that clearly are illegal and they're going to have to be dealt with," he said.

Premier-designate Doug Ford announced earlier this week that he'll consult with municipalities, stakeholders and his caucus before deciding whether to go ahead with the current plan to open LCBO-style retail stores.

A protester lights a joint during a 4-20 marijuana rally on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

While the sale of marijuana will be regulated by the province, law enforcement, emergency response and public health implications will fall to municipalities.

There's also the matter of training police officers to recognize drivers who are under the influence of the drug. So far only 15 Ottawa police officers have received that training.

That will come with costs, and Watson said it's still not clear who will foot the bill.

Watson has openly opposed Ford's idea for a free cannabis market, floated earlier this year.

"Some will call me old-fashioned, but I think you're going to see increases in break and enters in these mom-and-pop shops that are not properly secured," he said.