Mississauga residents must wait to purchase cannabis products in Mississauga until Mayor Bonnie Crombie and the City Council can approve cannabis store restrictions.

Last month, the Ford Government announced that an additional 50 cannabis retail stores will be permitted across the province, excluding those that have opted out. The city of Mississauga is one such municipality.

Currently, only provincial legislation governs the rules and regulations around cannabis stores. For example, provincial law stipulates that cannabis outlets must remain 150 metres away from public and private schools.

However, Mayor Crombie expressed the need for greater municipality control over retail cannabis locations. She would like potential stores to be established beyond the 150-metre rule.

The mayor’s feedback also included municipality ability to impose setbacks on sensitive locations, such as daycares, bus stops, and shelters.

“We like to take our time, we like to do our homework,” Mayor Crombie said in an interview with Mississauga News. “And we’re not saying no forever, just not now.”

The Mississauga City Council voted 10-2 to opt-out of the city’s retail cannabis motion on December 2018. At that time, 80 provincial municipalities also opted-out of retail cannabis, while 337 opted-in. The city of Brampton became the only Peel Region municipality to opt-in to allowing retail cannabis stores.

Ward 2 councillor Karen Ras explained her vote against the city’s motion to opt-out, saying, “we don’t regulate where LCBOs go. Why would we say no and take that extra step to try to dictate where the cannabis stores would go, as long as they are within those setbacks related to schools and other sensitive use?”

Ras doesn’t believe cities would be granted “absolute control” over retail cannabis stores. She added that cities can work within current parameters set by provincial legislation.

On July 4, the Mississauga Board of Trade sent an open letter to Mayor Crombie and the City Council asking them to “re-open this issue and vote in favour” of cannabis stores in Mississauga.

David Wojcik, Mississauga Board of Trade President and CEO, states that the Council’s vote to opt-out places Mississauga at a disadvantage. “It is stifling new investment in this sector, forcing Mississauga residents to purchase cannabis in other municipalities, costing jobs and commercial property tax revenue for the city and region.”

Wojcik added that Mississauga residents who wish to obtain cannabis will do so from Brampton, Toronto, or through “illegal sources.”

The April 2019 provincial budget continues to permit the sale of cannabis by private-sector businesses under Retail Store Authorization.

Due to a shortage of legal cannabis supply from federally licensed producers, the federal government has allowed private cannabis stores to open in phases. The Cannabis Licence Act of 2018 has implemented a lottery system, run by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, to determine which businesses can apply in the initial phase.

Upon meeting the Ontario government’s requirements, 50 new retail cannabis stores will open in October of this year.

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