Municipalities around the GTA are weighing whether or not to allow brick-and-mortar pot shops with just a little more than a month to go before a provincial opt-out deadline.

On Wednesday, both Markham and Mississauga voted not to allow retail pot shops.

While online cannabis sales in Ontario started on Oct. 17 through the Ontario Cannabis Store, retail operations in the province will start on April 1, through privately-owned stores licensed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

However, the provincial government has said that municipalities have a one-timeopportunityto opt-outof allowing retail pot stores. The deadline is January 22.

“Council feels there are still too many unknowns about the retail cannabis model and what it will mean for our city,” Mayor Bonnie Crombie said in a statement.

Crombie said Mississauga had been planning for a retail cannabis model similar to the LCBO, as proposed by the previous Liberal government.

“Council feels that the recent changes to the retail cannabis model have occurred too quickly and there are too many unanswered questions at this time,” she said, adding that the province has not given municipalities control over where cannabis stores can go.

Crombie said she plans to write a letter to the province asking for municipalities to have greater control over where pot shops can be located.

A Forum Research poll of 500 Mississauga residents found that while 53 per cent disapproved of cannabis legalization, a majority (68 per cent) said the city should opt-in to allow physical cannabis stores in the city.

While Crombie said council feels it’s too early to say yes to the model currently offered by the province, Mississauga could choose to opt-in at a later time.

Markham council voted to opt-out Wednesday by a vote of 12-1.

Toronto set to vote Thursday

Toronto City Council is set to vote tomorrow on whether to opt-out of retail pot shops.

A report by City Manager Chris Murray is recommending that the city not opt-out. The report says that opting out would effectively encourage the illegal market. 

Speaking with reporters Wednesday, Mayor John Tory said that while he doesn’t think the current framework is perfect, it makes sense to allow retail pot sales so as to discourage people from turning to illegal options.

Still, he said municipalities should have greater control over where the stores can go.

“I’ve expressed my own concern about the need for the City of Toronto to have some greater latitude to regulate, within the context of the provincial rules, the location of cannabis stores,” Tory said. “We don’t want six or seven of them located within one strip of the Danforth or anywhere else in the city, for example. We don’t want them to be too close to schools or playgrounds or places like that and right now the rules leave it uncertain as to whether we would have the degree of control I think cities, including Toronto, should have.”