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Looking for a cannabis store near you? These cities could become the GTA’s ‘dry’ zones

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Aside from cannabis stores being at least 150 metres away from any school, it’s hard to to predict where they will pop up when they begin to open across Ontario come April.

But it’s a good bet they might be chock-a-block along the south side of Steeles Ave. at the top of Toronto if some prominent politicians in Richmond Hill and Markham to the immediate north get their way.

Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti, just elected to his fourth term, says the previous council opposed physical pot stores, and many of those members were re-elected, so they are likely to vote the same way. He is also opposed.
Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti, just elected to his fourth term, says the previous council opposed physical pot stores, and many of those members were re-elected, so they are likely to vote the same way. He is also opposed.  (Metroland file photo / Steve Somerville)

Those are two of at least five municipalities in the province that may vote to ban the brick-and-mortar pot shops before the Jan. 22 opt-out deadline set by Queen’s Park.

The refusal, which is also being explored in Oakville, King Township and East Gwillimbury, makes little sense to many cannabis industry experts.

“The shops will just open along the borders of those municipalities, I’m 100-per-cent certain,” says Rod Elliot, a senior vice-president with Toronto’s Global Public Affairs consulting group. “And those shops will end up being twice as busy.”

Elliot says “dry communities” in U.S. states that have legalized recreational cannabis have seen stores load up along their boundaries.

“Those stores are some of the most profitable in the United States,” he says.

Lawyer Matt Maurer, a cannabis industry expert with Toronto’s Torkin Manes LLP, also says border stores abutting opt-out municipalities will almost certainly pop up.

“If Oakville opts out … does that mean everyone is going to order online?” Maurer says. “Probably not. They’re going to go to Mississauga or Burlington.

“And to drive from the border of Mississauga to the border of Burlington it takes about six minutes to blast through Oakville on the QEW, so why not set up a shop on Winston Churchill Blvd. (in the east) and Burloak Dr.” to the west, he says.

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A municipality wishing to opt out of hosting stores must get a majority of their municipal councillors to sign off on the move, which is a one-time-only offer from the province.

Opted-out towns and cities can opt back in with a similar council vote in the future, but those welcoming the stores initially can’t kick them out later.

Elliot says communities considering the ban are doing so out of misguided fears — especially about proximity to schools.

“This is more of a moral panic than an evidence-based approach,” Elliot says. “Optically they don’t like the idea that stores could be near schools.”

But provincial rules set in place for shop owners — and the legal and financial penalties they face — make sales to people under 19 highly unlikely, Elliot says.

“The evidence would show that a customer … is going to be required to show government-issued ID when they enter the store and government-issued ID at the point of sale,” he says.

Elliot says provincial regulations would strip licences, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, from any retailer selling to minors while federal laws could impose prison terms of up to 14 years on offending retailers.

Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti, just elected to his fourth term, says the opting out has received broad support in his community.

His previous council voted for a resolution saying Markham didn’t want the stores when the then-Liberal government at Queen’s Park approached the city. He says enough of that council survived the recent municipal election to vote them down again.

“I’m going to be voting the same way, that we opt out, and I think the majority of council will as well,” Scarpitti says, admitting that some in the city are angry with the decisions.

He says the old council — which also held a mid-election vote banning tobacco and cannabis smoking in public — will likely deal with the issue in late December or early January.

And Scarpitti says his constituents were not as concerned with border stores and much as they were with how the pot shops might mar the face of Markham itself.

“We certainly heard a lot of concerns … are they going to be next to my grocery store, what kind of signage are they going to have, what kind of marketing are they going to be permitted,” he says.

“If they are on the other side of Steeles I guess they’re on the other side of Steeles.”

In Richmond Hill, where city council said last December that it would not be a willing store host, the issue will be revisited by the new council Dec. 11. The mayor and councillors were all re-elected in October. City spokesperson Meeta Gandhi would not predict the outcome of a vote.

King Township Mayor Steve Pellegrini's council looks poised to reject the stores.
King Township Mayor Steve Pellegrini’s council looks poised to reject the stores.  (Mike Barrett/Metroland)

King Township Mayor Steve Pellegrini said his council voted unanimously in October to opt out of hosting a store. And with five of the seven previous councillors returning, a no vote would seem assured if the issue is revisited.

Both Elliot and Maurer say municipalities are properly concerned about the lack of discretion the province has handed them over store placement.

“In the same way they don’t like to see a cluster of bars opening up in the same area or a cluster of payday lenders, I think that’s where the local licensing officials would like to have a little bit more control over the process,” Elliot says.

Maurer says provincial laws forbid municipalities from treating cannabis stores differently from regular retail properties, including in their choice of location.

“Municipalities are a little bit handcuffed on where they can put these stores.”

This lack of autonomy has certainly bothered Oakville Mayor Rob Burton, who is stridently objecting to stores in his city.

“What you’re seeing in the province’s approach to cannabis is a highly centralized, identical approach for everybody,” he says.

Burton would not try to predict how council would vote when it addresses the issue in mid-January after public consultations. He said any tax revenues the stores would generate would prove a “piffle, pennies, nothing” for his city.

In Mississauga, Councillor Pat Saito told the CBC this week that her city should not allow the stores. But Mayor Bonnie Crombie says council will only decide after extensive consultation with residents, through surveys and public meetings. In one such meeting held this week, however, Crombie said most of the about 100 people attending expressed approval for letting the stores in.

A staff report will come before council Dec. 12 with a vote likely before the Jan. 22 deadline.

Joseph Hall is a Toronto-based reporter covering cannabis. Reach him on email: gjhall@thestar.ca


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These US entities partnered with the Wuhan Institute of Virology — time for a criminal investigation?

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(Natural News) The Wuhan Institute of Virology from which the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) is believed to have “escaped” has a number of questionable partnerships that are worth looking into in light of the pandemic.

Most of them are universities, including the University of Alabama, the University of North Texas, and Harvard University. There is also the EcoHealth Alliance, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Wildlife Federation.

While the relationships between these entities and the Wuhan Institute of Virology may be completely innocent, there is no way to really say for sure without a proper investigation. And this is exactly what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is calling for, as is the nation of Australia.

Pompeo and the folks down under, along with millions of Americans, would really like to know the true origins of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19). An increasing number of people simply are not buying the narrative that the novel virus originated in bat soup at a Chinese wet market, and this even includes mainstream media outlets like Fox News.

The only way to really determine what was going on at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and who else might have been involved. is to open the place up for an international investigation. But communist China is against this, of course, accusing Australia of “petty tricks” and collusion with the United States.

“Overnight, I saw comments from the Chinese Foreign Ministry talking about a course of activity with respect to Australia who had the temerity to ask for investigation,” Pompeo is quoted as saying in response to China’s aggression against a proposed investigation.

“Who in the world wouldn’t want an investigation of how this happened to the world?” he added.

As the U.S. aims to get back on track economically speaking, Pompeo believes that now is the time to hold communist China, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and whoever else may have been involved accountable for unleashing this pandemic on the world.

“Not only American wealth, but the global economy’s devastation as a result of this virus,” Pompeo further stated. “There will be a time for this. We will get that timing right.”

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New U.S. analysis finds that lab in Wuhan, China was “most likely” origin of coronavirus release

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(Natural News) While American Leftists and most of the Democrat Party continue to serve as apologists for the Chinese Communist regime over its role in creating and then perpetuating the coronavirus pandemic, a new U.S. government analysis concludes that COVID-19 “most likely” escaped from a lab near Wuhan city.

The Washington Times reports that the analysis cataloged evidence linking the outbreak to the Wuhan lab and has found that other explanations for the origins of the virus are not as credible.

The paper reported:

The document, compiled from open sources and not a finished product, says there is no smoking gun to blame the virus on either the Wuhan Institute of Virology or the Wuhan branch of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, both located in the city where the first outbreaks were reported.

However, “there is circumstantial evidence to suggest such may be the case,” the paper says.

“All other possible places of the virus’ origin have been proven to be highly unlikely,” said the report, a copy of which was obtained by the Times.

ChiCom officials have claimed that the virus’ origin is unknown. However, Beijing initially stated that coronavirus came from animals at a “wet market” in Wuhan where exotic meats are butchered and sold in disgusting conditions.

Chinese officials claim that COVID-19 went from bats to animals sold in the market last year, then infected humans.

U.S. intelligence officials have increasingly dismissed that explanation, however, as attention has begun to focus on evidence suggesting that Chinese medical researchers were working with coronavirus in the country’s only Level 4 facility, which is in Wuhan.

U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said that intelligence agencies are investigating whether the virus escaped from a lab or was the result of a naturally occurring outbreak, but that analysts have ruled out reports that COVID-19 was manmade.

‘The most logical place to investigate the virus origin has been completely sealed off’

“At this point, it’s inconclusive, although the weight of evidence seems to indicate natural,” the general said on April 14, “but we don’t know for certain.”

The analysis said that the wet market explanation does not ring true because the first human diagnosis of coronavirus was made in someone who had no connection to the wet market in question. And according to Chinese reports, no bats were sold at that particular market.

At the same time, several questionable actions and a growing paper trail provide clues that the virus actually escaped from a lab, even as China begins to clamp down on those information streams.

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The biggest media lies about the coronavirus: Origins, treatments and vaccines

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(Natural News) If there is one thing that most everyone can agree on concerning the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is the fact that there is no shortage of conflicting information out there about the nature of it. And the mainstream media is certainly doing its part to steer the narrative as part of a larger agenda, using plenty of misinformation along the way.

The following are among the most commonly parroted lies about the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that aim to distort the facts and deceive you into believing falsehoods about this pandemic:

Media LIE: The virus is not man-made

From the very beginning of this thing, the official narrative was that the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) came from a Chinese wet market where bats and other “exotic” animals are sold as meat. But the world later learned that it actually more than likely “escaped” from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The mainstream media and social media platforms went nuts trying to censor this information and even called it  “fake news.” But eventually it became undeniable that bat soup was not responsible for spreading the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) around Wuhan and eventually to the rest of the world – hence why we continue to call it the Wuhan coronavirus rather than just COVID-19.

We have even seen attempts by the media machine at making the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) a racial issue because there are supposedly more “people of color” coming down with it than people with fair skin, which further detracts attention away from the source of this virus.

Media LIE: Hydroxychloroquine is extremely dangerous and doesn’t work

The minute that President Donald Trump announced that hydroxychloroquine may be an effective, and very inexpensive, remedy for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), the mainstream media immediately began decrying this claim as fake news, even though Anthony Fauci himself praised hydroxychloroquine back in 2013 under Barack Obama as being some type of “miracle cure” for SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).

There have even been studies conducted that were designed to intentionally smear the drug as both ineffective and dangerous, though one in particular purposely left out zinc, which appears to be a critical co-factor in supporting the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine – in other words, politics as usual.

Media LIE: Only a vaccine can save us from coronavirus

Many politicians and public health officials are parroting the lie that the only way America can come out of lockdown and go back to “normal” is to get vaccinated with some future vaccine for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that does not even yet exist. A vaccine, we are repeatedly told, is the only thing, or perhaps some new “blockbuster” antiviral drug, that can cure the world of this scourge and make everything happy and wonderful once again.

Meanwhile, not a peep is being made about things like intravenous (IV) high-dose vitamin C, which is being successfully used in other countries to stem the tide of infections without the need for new drugs and vaccines.

By omission, nutrition is pointless

Speaking of natural approaches to overcoming the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that are being systematically ignored by the mainstream media and most in politics, have you heard anyone mention the importance of nutrition in all of this? We did not think so, and this is intentional.

Regular readers of this site over the years should know by now that the single-most important thing you need to do to stay healthy besides exercising regularly is to feed your body the nutrition it needs to naturally ward off illnesses, including those associated with the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).

Research compiled by the Lewin Group reveals that nutritional remedies such as calcium, vitamin D, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zeaxanthin, and more all play a critical role in fortifying the immune system, which, if properly nourished, should have little problem fending off disease.

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