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Mississauga, Markham opt out of privately-operated cannabis stores

Last Updated Dec 12, 2018 at 11:59 pm EDT

Mississauga and Markham councillors voted on Wednesday to opt out of having private cannabis retail stores in their respective cities.

“Today, our Council made the decision to opt out as we feel that the recent changes to the retail cannabis model have occurred too quickly and there are too many unanswered questions at this time,” said Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie in a statement.

Markham voted 12-1 against hosting cannabis stores.

Queen’s Park gave municipalities until January 22, 2019 to decide whether they will opt out of having retail cannabis stores.

Crombie blamed the province for not giving cities enough control over the rollout of marijuana stores.

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

Crombie said the decision isn’t final, and that the city “may decide to opt-in in the future” if municipalities are given more say “into the location and number of retail stores that are permitted in our city.”

Richmond Hill has previously indicated it would also opt-out of establishing retail outlets in their communities.

Before being ousted from power on election night, Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals sought to roll out 150 Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) locations by 2020, with 40 to open in the first year. The stores would have been run by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO).

But the Ford government scrapped that business model, announcing that it would be moving forward with a private retail store model to commence in April. Under the Ford government, the OCS will be the wholesaler providing product to private retailers.

In the meantime, cannabis can only be purchased in Ontario through the OCS website.