Mississauga council says no to cannabis shops

Retail cannabis stores will be not permitted in Mississauga.

City council chose at its Wednesday meeting to opt-out on allowing private retail shops to sell cannabis in Mississauga. The federal government legalized cannabis on Oct. 17, and the province has since made it available for purchase via its online portal the Ontario Cannabis Store.

Mississauga city council received delegations from members of the community and business leaders on Wednesday before opting out of allowing retail cannabis stores in the city starting April 1, 2019.  (ALI RAZA / METROLAND)

Mississauga city council received delegations from members of the community and business leaders on Wednesday before opting out of allowing retail cannabis stores in the city starting April 1, 2019.  (ALI RAZA / METROLAND)

“This is a very concerning provincial distribution model for private retail of cannabis,” Councillor Chris Fonseca said.

Councillors Fonseca, John Kovac, Carolyn Parrish, George Carlson, Dipika Damerla and Pat Saito agreed the municipality is being rushed into making a decision without any control or planning. Councillors discussed the possibility of taking a wait-and-see approach based on how retail stores affect other municipalities over the next six months to a year.

“I don’t want Mississauga to be a guinea pig,” Damerla said. “I think we’re better off taking a prudent approach.”

Council voted 10-2 on the motion to opt-out of retail cannabis stores, with councillors Karen Ras and Sue McFadden voting against the motion.

The privately-owned stores would have been licensed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission, which will also govern the rules and regulations around the stores. For example, stores cannot be located within 150 metres of the property line of a public or private school.

Municipalities are prohibited from licensing or regulating the sale of cannabis, which was a major cause of concern among councillors.

“Their (the province) legislation is flawed, and needs to be revised,” Carlson said.

The city had to make a decision by the provincially mandated deadline of Jan. 22, 2019

A poll by Forum Research of 500 residents showed that 53 per cent of those residents indicated they disapproved of legalization of recreational cannabis and 47 per cent approved.

While the majority of residents who were asked disapproved of legalization, a large majority — 68 per cent — think the city should opt-in to retail stores.

Since Mississauga chose to opt-out, it will receive just $324,442 over the next two years from the provincial Ontario Cannabis Legalization Implementation Fund of $40 million.

Original Article by The Star

Michelle Knights