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Wabush Mayor Ron Barron(left), Labrador City Mayor Wayne Button (centre), and Labrador West Chamber of Commerce president Toby Leon talk about cannabis
Wabush Mayor Ron Barron(left), Labrador City Mayor Wayne Button (centre), and Labrador West Chamber of Commerce president Toby Leon talk about cannabis - Contributed

Thoughts from Labrador West leaders on the legalization of cannabis

LABRADOR WEST, N.L.

On Oct. 17 Canadians will enter into a new era when the legalization of cannabis comes into effect.

Residents will be able to buy limited quantities of product, and even be allowed to cultivate a small amount in their own homes.

There has been much debate by those for and against the legalization of cannabis.

The Aurora spoke with the mayors of Wabush and Labrador City and the president of the Labrador West Chamber of Commerce about the upcoming changes. Here are their thoughts:

Mayor Wayne Button of Labrador City:

“This is definitely something new for all of us to adjust to as a society,” Button said. “On the municipal level we were told there might be learning curves in the first couple of months, but we are prepared for anything that comes our way.”

The Aurora asked Button about policies for town staff.

“We do not have any work policies specific to cannabis right now, however, in the past few months the town has been amending and reestablishing many of their policies,” he noted. “With that being said, it is possible something will be reworded to include cannabis in it.”

(Reporters note: Most towns already have regulations concerning the consumption of alcohol and impairment in their bylaws.)

Button says it is his understanding that there will be a workshop with NLC concerning cannabis.

The rules and regulations for cannabis can be found at most government websites (federal and provincial).

Labrador West Chamber of Commerce president Toby Leon:

“The use of cannabis has been prevalent in our society for a while, and it is a good thing that the product is finally being regulated,” Leon said. “That should mean that it would make it harder for younger people to obtain the product, the way it is difficult for someone underage to walk in and buy wine. “

New regulations also ensure that anyone selling cannabis who isn’t authorized to do so can be prosecuted.

As far as business is concerned, it may mean that many will have to adopt policies for their business premises, like the use of cannabis by workers.

In Leon’s case, as the president of Smokey Mountain Ski Club, he says the issue will be discussed at an upcoming meeting of ski hill operators. But he adds there has been a lot of study and regulations on the use of the product, and he points out there are strict guidelines in place.

Leon also hopes the legalization will help rid some of the problems that have been associated with illegal sales in the past.

No doubt it will be an interesting time in Canadian history, but Leon doesn’t think the new regulations will lead to a sudden increase in the consumption of cannabis.

Meanwhile, with no direct comment on the business aspect, there has been widespread debate on just who will get the biggest financial benefits from the sale of cannabis. After Oct. 17 purchasing cannabis will be no different buying a bottle of rum or a dozen beer.

Wabush Mayor Ron Barron:

“It should have been introduced a long time ago, given the fact that it’s been a part of our society for quite some time,” Barron said. “One of the first things that comes to mind is the fact that we won’t be tying down courts and police trying to convict people of simple possession. That alone should be a big saving, and some of those savings should go back to services that deal with addictions of any kind.”

The mayor also says with legalization, even though technically it will be hard for young people to obtain the substance, parents have an obligation to be vigilant of what their children are doing.

Barron also says there was an education session at a recent Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador presentation that explained a lot for councillors and employees in attendance about cannabis.

“It will be something new for many to deal with,” Barron told The Aurora, but says, "alcohol was illegal at one point as well, so it is time for us to deal with this new change for Canadians.”

Barron is of the opinion that most people won’t abuse cannabis, as was the case with alcohol when it became legal to purchase, but he hopes there are steps in place to help those who deal with addiction.

Barron, says one of the benefits of the legalization of cannabis is the fact that the quality of the product has to meet standards. He noted that often cannabis obtained on the street has been laced with substances that are harmful, even dangerous to people who use them. He feels having regulated cannabis will prevent that.

One store in Labrador West, Tobin’s Convenience, in the Harry Lake area has a license to retail the product.

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