The Council Chambers may have been full, but only a few residents were on hand to speak to the sale of marijuana in privately owned stores.

At the beginning of its meeting on December 18th, Parry Sound Town Council opened the floor to the public for their thoughts on the allowing the retail sale of cannabis within the municipal boundaries of Parry Sound.

Of the five people who spoke to the issue, three were in favour of opting into the plan allowing the retail sale of the drug.

Comments in favour of opting-in included that since the sale and possession of pot is now legal in Canada, the sale of it in Parry Sound should also be legal, much like beer and liquor. As well, taking this measure would better track the use of the drug and provide better regulation of its sale which otherwise would be sold illicitly.

Pushback for private sales of the drug came from two speakers representing the Parry Sound High School’s official opposition to cannabis stores in Parry Sound.

As part their argument for opting-out of the program, the representatives took the position that while “the debate for legalizing cannabis is over, the debate of having a retail store that would only serve to advertise, promote, and encourage more individuals using in our community is still on the table”.

This slim margin of ‘for’ and ‘against’ the retail sale of cannabis at Council is in stark contrast to recent survey results by the Parry Sound Downtown Business Association and The Parry Sound Area Chamber of Commerce.

Results from the DBA survey showed that 82% of 396 respondents were in favour of cannabis stores in Parry Sound while 69% of 342 respondents to the Chamber’s poll were also in favour of legalized sales.

Officials from both organizations said most of the negative feedback they received was directed at the use of marijuana rather than the retail sale of the drug.

Council has until January 22nd, 2019 to decide if it will opt-in or out of the plan to sell cannabis in privately-owned retail stores which takes effect in Ontario on April 1st.