Municipal staff are recommending City Council not to opt-out of provincially-licensed cannabis retail stores in Toronto.
A report heading to City Council this week recommends allowing cannabis retail stores to operate as a legal alternative, besides the OCS, to purchasing weed in Toronto.
Provincially-licensed private cannabis retail stores are expected to open in Ontario by April 1, 2019, and municipalities have until January 22, 2019, to pass resolutions to opt-out of having licensed cannabis retail locations within their municipal boundaries.
The staff report said that prohibiting pot shops in Toronto would limit Toronto residents’ access to legal and government-regulated recreational cannabis, and “is anticipated that prohibiting legal cannabis retail stores would have the unintended consequence of encouraging the illegal market to continue to operate, either through storefronts selling illegal products or by driving illegal cannabis sales underground.”
Staff believe this would undermine efforts by all levels of government to prevent youth access to cannabis and would require increased municipal and police enforcement to address illegal operations.
Mayor John Tory’s major concerns with retail stores are focused around the safety of children and public health. With the upcoming report being discussed this week, Tory wants more power for municipalities to control the locations of private cannabis retail stores.
“I continue to be concerned about safety for children, public health, and the proximity of cannabis stores to places like schools,” said Tory. “While I don’t believe saying ‘no’ to cannabis retail stores in our city is a practical position, we should be maximizing safety and the protection of children and neighbourhoods from any negative effects that may come about as a result of these stores.”
The province has announced that it will provide $40 million over two years to municipalities across Ontario for the implementation costs of cannabis legalization, according to city staff.
It will provide the first payment of $15 million to all municipalities in January 2019, on a per household basis, and has stated that the City of Toronto will receive $3,008,705.