Developer denied chance to set up pot shop

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Alex Kurial
Local Journalism Initiative

No means no in St. Clair Township.
Council has once again decided against allowing cannabis stores in the township.
Council’s vote was unanimous to keep pot shops off the streets. The request had been brought forward by a local realtor – Doug Lasenby – who said he had several requests from cannabis entrepreneurs to establish businesses in St. Clair.
When the province first set up the rules for commercial cannabis shops, municipalities had to decide if they would want a pot shop.
The township did not originally ‘opt-in’ to allowing cannabis shops when the product became legal in 2018. That gave St. Clair council the right to refuse such businesses, with the option to reconsider at a later date.
The main sticking point was that under current laws they’d be unable to regulate the number of cannabis shops. Permission cannot be given to only a certain town or plaza, but applies to the entire municipality.
In Sarnia, there are seven applications for pot shops on the books.
“Until we have clarification on whether we can restrict the amount of these I can’t support it,” says Deputy Mayor Steve Miller.
“I don’t want a cannabis store in every village in the township.”
Councillor Jim DeGurse says there are already enough cannabis shops nearby to serve St. Clair residents. “We can go two miles to the north and hit four [cannabis shops] already operating,” says DeGurse.
Several cannabis stores are located along the St. Clair Parkway in Aamjiwnaang First Nation territory.