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Politics News & Policy News Grow

Markham and Richmond Hill choosing to opt-out of retail cannabis sales

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Ainsley Smith Aug 16, 2018 9:22 am 149

With marijuana set to be legalized in Canada on October 17, the provincial government recently announced a policy change that would allow recreational pot to be sold in retail stores while the province handles online sales.

Under the province’s new retail model, Ontario residents 19 years of age and older will be able to buy legal cannabis through a government-run website before the ‘private retail model’ is launched in 2019.

On Monday, Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said that municipalities will be consulted prior to legal cannabis stores opening in their area. During this period, cities will be given a one-time opportunity to opt-out of housing legal pot shops.

“In order to protect our communities — we have to work closely with our municipalities.  In fact, they are our essential partners,” said Fedeli. “We are committed to creating a safe retail model that eliminates the illegal cannabis market in Ontario. We are taking a balanced and responsible approach to building a system that works.”

With legalization just under two months away, a number of Ontario municipalities have already announced they’ve chosen to opt-out of allowing private cannabis retail stores.

One of these cities is Richmond Hill, as members of the community are not at all interested in the city hosting retail outlets.

“The changes to the cannabis legislation are welcomed. There has not been any dialogue with federal or provincial governments since it was announced in December 2017. The majority of comments that we received from our community was that they were not interested in a retail outlet at all,” reads a statement from Dave Barrow, Mayor of Richmond Hill.

“Council stated that Richmond Hill would not be a willing host at that time and I expect that the option to opt-out will be the choice we make when the province provides the ability to do so,” said Barrow.

Additionally, the City of Markham is also choosing to opt-out.

“Mayor Scarpitti applauds the Ford Government on allowing municipalities to have a say on whether or not retail outlets will be permitted” reads a statement from the office of Mayor Frank Scarpitti.

“When approached by the previous provincial government to be one of the first locations, Mayor Scarpitti rejected that opportunity and subsequently Markham Council also passed a motion rejecting a retail outlet.”

It remains unknown how many Ontario municipalities are choosing to opt-out at this time.

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