Toronto council votes to allow private cannabis retail stores
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Thursday, December 13, 2018 5:04AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 13, 2018 8:37PM EST
Toronto city council has voted in favour of allowing privately-run licensed cannabis retail outlets to open up next year.
Twenty councillors including Mayor John Tory voted in favour of the motion, which will see the province allow privately-run marijuana shops open as soon as April 2019.
Four councillors, John Filion, James Pasternak, Cynthia Lai and Josh Matlow, voted against.
The provincial legislation allows marijuana shops to operate as close as 150 metres to schools, a provision that caused some councillors concern.
Mayor Tory issued a statement after the vote saying he too has reservations about the current regime.
“While today's vote on cannabis will see Toronto become a part of a regulatory regime and allow cannabis retail stores, I do not believe it provides adequate ability for the City of Toronto to protect people and neighbourhoods.”
Council moved to ask the province for some ability to restrict the placement of cannabis outlets near schools and other infrastructure associated with children.
On Wednesday, city councils in Mississauga and Markham voted to not allow pot shops in their jurisdictions, with both councils citing significant public opposition.
Municipal councils in Ontario must decide whether to accept or reject private marijuana retail outlets by Jan. 22, 2019.
After Toronto’s vote was complete, Ontario Attorney General Caroline Mulroney said that in light of significant shortages of cannabis across the country, the province will amend its original plan to not cap the number of retail licenses it issues this April.
"Taking into consideration the required investments for a prospective Ontario private legal retailer, we cannot in good conscience issue an unlimited number of licences to businesses in the face of such shortages and the federal government's failure to provide certainty around future supply," Mulroney said in a statement.
Instead, the province will cap the number of licenses at 25 for all of Ontario and only issue more in “phases.”
The first 25 licenses will be issued through a lottery managed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.