Cannabis retail debate

Municipalities across Ontario are now weighing the decision on whether to allow cannabis retail outlets.

The province says municipalities must indicate by January 22nd whether they plan to opt in, or opt out of legal cannabis locations.

Some municipalities are concerned that they will have no control over where or how many cannabis dispensaries operate within their boundaries. The main stipulation from the province is that stores cannot be within 150 metres of a school, about a block and a half.

Wednesday night in Burlington, about 100 residents attended a town hall on cannabis and afterwards they were asked to vote. 82% supported allowing cannabis stores in Burlington.

Niagara Falls was in favour of cannabis retail until the new government changed the rules in the province. Now tourism operators are opposed.

On December 18th a Hamilton general issues committee will debate retail cannabis options. Councillor Sam Merulla’s pending motion would have the city opt out of selling cannabis for now. Hamilton’s mayor is in favour of opting in.

Before any retail store authorizations are issued, municipalities and local residents will have the opportunity to share their views on a proposed store location. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario must consider the public interest, including the needs and wishes of the residents of the municipality when issuing licenses and authorizations.

When deciding whether to approve a cannabis retail store location, the AGCO will post a public notice on the AGCO website and a placard will be displayed at the proposed retail store location to indicate that a licensee has applied for an authorization at that location.