The Resident’s Role
You’ve just found out that an application for a retail cannabis store has been submitted down the street. Is it time to panic?
Down the street from your home, and right around the corner from the local high school, an application for a Retail Cannabis Store has been submitted. This is unchartered territory for you, and it’s especially intimidating to think that this is happening right under your nose, and that you have no say in any of it. After all, you live here. Your friends and family live here. You are the ones that will be most affected by the business. What do you do? What can you do? And who do you turn to?
Here’s the good news: Help is available.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is the regulatory body in charge of administrating the Retail Cannabis Store applications process. The AGCO is a longstanding Provincial creature - not a Municipal body. This is worth noting, because unlike Municipal Licences – which are usually issued on the spot and without public consultations – Provincial bodies such as the AGCO give the public and (in particular) local residents the opportunity to support or object to a Licence application. As such, each and every Resident in the area is an integral part of the Application process. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Usually, an Application is advertised and the Residents are given an opportunity to object to an Application on the basis of something called “Public Interest.” This concept has long-existed with respect to Liquor Licence matters, and it requires the careful balancing between the right to operate a business and the right to enjoy one’s community. This concept has more or less been transplanted into the discourse pertaining to Cannabis Retail Stores, which is good news, because it provides a great precedent with respect to how businesses and Residents are expected to compromise in order to ensure that this act of careful balancing takes place.
This process permits Residents to be assured that the Applicant is held accountable when operating his or her Licensed Retail Cannabis Store. It is also an opportunity to discuss with the Applicant the possibility of attaching conditions to a Licence in order to address your concerns and help ensure that the business operates in a prudent and professional manner, with little or no negative impact on the community.
Once you have filed your objection, an opportunity is given to meet with the Applicant and discuss these concerns, as well as to hear what the Applicant is proposing in terms of his or her business plan. It is important to know your rights and know how and when to file your objections, because failure to file in time can result in your objection being null and void.
This is the only opportunity you will get to address your concerns in the Licensing process, so be sure to make it count.
Vassos Law LLP has been helping residents groups, Business Association and Municipal Councils for decades to make sure that their voice is heard during the Application process. We can also assist you and your community in order to ensure that any Retail Store is held accountable and compelled to operate in such a way as to make public safety a primary concern. Let us help you protect your community.