Mississauga, Markham councils vote ‘no’ to cannabis retail stores

Mississauga and Markham council members have voted to opt out of allowing cannabis retail stores to operate in their cities.

In a 10-2 vote Wednesday morning, Mississauga city council rejected allowing the stores to open — at least for now.

Mayor Bonnie Crombie said in a statement after the vote that there are “too many unanswered questions” about the private retail model announced by the Ontario government earlier this year.

“The province has not given municipalities any control over where cannabis stores can be located in our city. This is cause for great concern,” she wrote.

“The City of Mississauga may decide to opt-in in the future. However, in the meantime, we will continue to consult and engage with our community. It’s important we take the time to get this right.”

Markham city council followed suit Wednesday afternoon by also opting out. A follow-up report is due back to the mayor and councillors outlining the impacts of marijuana legalization.

Under the provincial legislation, the province’s municipalities have a one-time opt-out deadline of Jan. 22. Stores will be allowed to open as soon as April 1.

Regulations would allow stand-alone stores to be open any day between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m., but the businesses must be at least 150 metres away from schools and restrict entry to anyone under the age of 19.

Applications for licences will be accepted beginning on Dec. 17 while those who operated illegal cannabis stores after legalization on Oct. 17 won’t be eligible to apply.

Meanwhile, Toronto city council is set to debate whether to opt in or not during a meeting on Thursday.

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