Bill Kelly: Hamilton and Burlington councils made right call by ‘opting in’ on pot retail

Monday was decision day for Hamilton and Burlington city councils on whether they would opt in and allow cannabis retail outlets in their communities.

To their credit, after lengthy debate and rehashing many of the same unsubstantiated arguments against opting in, both councils made the right call and decided to allow the retail shops in their communities.

Some delegations — and some councillors, for that matter — clung to their moral opposition to cannabis, but the reality is, that debate is over.

As of October of last year, cannabis is a legal product and sticking your head in the sand and pretending that didn’t happen won’t change a thing. Pot is now a legal and controlled substance like liquor and tobacco, and like those products, the sale and distribution of cannabis must be done within strict guidelines.

Opting out of the retail outlets would have been shortsighted in so many ways.

It would have meant turning their backs on a growth industry that will provide jobs and tax revenue for communities, but more importantly, opting out would be a green light to the underground and illegal pot distributors who have no problem selling their unregulated product on street corners and playgrounds — and make no mistake about it, that’s already happening.

It’s time to put the myth of “Reefer Madness” to bed once and for all; cannabis is a legal and thriving industry and city councillors did the right thing by accepting that reality.

Bill Kelly is the host of the Bill Kelly Show on Global News Radio 900 CHML.

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