Mississauga will once again consider allowing cannabis shops to operate in city

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Published April 10, 2023 at 10:11 am

cannabis legal mississauga

Mississauga, the largest municipality in Ontario to so far deny the operation of legal cannabis stores within its borders, will once again consider changing its stance when City councillors meet this week. 

As one of five GTA municipalities and 64 across Ontario to “opt out” since weed was legalized in 2018, the City of Mississauga has, to date, stood firm in its position.

The issue at hand has always been control over where the pot shops would be allowed to open and do business. Most Mississauga councillors want to be able to regulate the businesses to some degree.

However, the Ontario government has also stood firm, saying the shops are not to be controlled by municipalities. There are no signs it’s about to budge.

There are indications Mississauga might now change its stance and “opt in” to the legalized cannabis shops plan.

A report from senior City staff dated March 27 and to be discussed by councillors at Wednesday’s (April 12) meeting of general committee notes that “clustering of stores” in neighbouring municipalities that allow retail cannabis sales “has not proven to be an issue to date.”

The concern over a potential clustering of stores, and associated problems, has been at the centre of Mississauga’s opposition.

The report from Shari Lichterman, Mississauga’s acting city manager, also points out that “Mississauga residents continue to be disproportionately served by the illegal cannabis market, compared to municipalities that have opted in.”

The report also revealed that:

  • there are 1,714 retail cannabis stores across Ontario, and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is approving as many as 23 new locations each week
  • to date, 64 municipalities in Ontario remain “opted out”
  • the Ontario retail cannabis market is growing annually, with $184 million in revenue in 2021/22
  • the retail cannabis market employs some 48,000 people across the province and contributes $13.3 billion to Ontario’s gross domestic product

Ward 7 Councillor Dipika Damerla, who has been firm in her position that the municipality needs more control over cannabis shops so they don’t pop up everywhere and in clusters, indicated earlier this year that she may be ready to change her tune.

Given the provincial government doesn’t appear to be giving an inch on the matter, she noted, it might be time to “opt in.”

The majority of Mississauga councillors have long expressed support for the idea of legal cannabis shops operating in the city, but only if regulated. 

City council officially nixed plans to allow cannabis shops on two occasions in 2021, citing a lack of municipal control. 

Mayor Bonnie Crombie, who’s in favour of allowing the pot shops, said at the time that concerns councillors have are with the clustering of stores in neighbourhoods and the proximity of the shops to playgrounds, schools, counselling facilities, child care and community centres as well as other sites that may be considered sensitive.  

Mississauga, Oakville, Markham, Whitby and Vaughan are the only municipalities in the GTA to so far deny the operation of legal cannabis stores.  

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