Legal cannabis stores could be coming soon to Mississauga
Published March 8, 2023 at 7:42 am
Legal cannabis stores could be coming soon to Mississauga due to a change in council.
That’s the word from Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie.
Mississauga is one of five cities in the GTA that opted to not allow cannabis stores after legalization in 2018. Oakville, Markham, Whitby and Vaughan also haven’t allowed the stores.
But now that there is a new council, and the province doesn’t seem to be budging on allowing municipalities to regulate where the stores can go, Mississauga is reconsidering the issue.
“Our objection had always been related to zoning,” said Mayor Bonnie Crombie in an interview on Instagram with Khaled Iwamura, publisher of insauga.com.
Crombie said council didn’t want the stores near daycares, schools, parks and group homes. They also didn’t want the stores to cluster in one area.
But now councillors have seen the example of how cannabis stores operate in other cities. They look very professional and they don’t necessarily concentrate in one area, said Crombie. In areas where there are too many stores, usually, the best one survives, she added.
“We have a new council so we should give them the opportunity to vote on this issue,” she said.
There are four new councillors who should be given a chance to contribute to the discussion.
Also, Ward 7 Councillor Dipika Damerla, who had opposed cannabis shops without zoning restrictions, seems to be changing her mind. Crombie says this is, in part, because of the blackmarket.
“It is very difficult to close illegal stores,” Crombie said. “She has had a heck of a time trying to close down illegal stores.”
Police shut down the illegal stores but they just reopen again.
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Continuing to ban legal stores contributes to this blackmarket, Crombie indicated.
“We have a thriving blackmarket,” she said. “Many of us feel like we are contributing to the blackmarket.”
And people are getting cannabis through the blackmarket, online or in Toronto and Brampton.
“Because there are existing illegal stores, why not allow legal ones to open?”
For now, council is waiting for a report back from staff, likely before the summer, on the impact retail cannabis stores have on municipalities across Ontario. Once that report is in, council will discuss the issue again.
Crombie indicated that with Damerla possibly changing her mind and the new councillors at the table, the ban could be lifted.
Damerla could be the swing vote in favour of allowing legal shops.
“I think there is hope for those who want retail cannabis,” Crombie said, adding that you never know with council how a vote may go after hearing a report.insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising