Hamilton, a major municipality in Ontario, has opted-in for retail cannabis stores, while 9 other municipalities have opted out.
Municipalities which opt-in will receive thousands of dollars in government funding: A portion of the $40 million dollars that Ontario is providing over two years for municipalities to jump start the retail program.
Another part of that will be the federal excise tax on cannabis.
Only 9 municipalities have decided to opt-out, but that doesn’t mean that their position won’t change in the future.
Not a permanent decision
Brantford municipality is the fifth and latest to opt-out, as the city council voted 7-4 against retail cannabis two days ago.
Mayor Kevin Davis said that the system is faulty and that they should wait for a better opportunity to opt-in.
“The province needs to improve the system and the question is how do you get a better system,” said Mayor Kevin Davis, “the way you do it is to opt out temporarily and try to get a better deal.”
Here are the municipalities in Ontario which have opted-out of having cannabis stores: Brantford, Markham, Milton, Mississauga, Newmarket, Oakville, Pickering, Richmond Hill and Whitby.
Hamilton is one of the major municipalities which decided to opt-in. The City Council voted 10-6 in favor of allowing retail cannabis stores.
The vote came about after Councillor Sam Merulla tried to have the city opt out of the retail stores, but his motion was defeated after the vote ended in a tie.
The government made a bad call
The owner of the first illegal pot shop in Hamilton, Britney Guerra, is looking forward to this business opportunity. She claims that this attempt will not push out the black market, as the West region will only have 7 shops. But, according to Ms. Guerra, Hamilton could host up to 150 legal stores.
The government’s recent to issue only 25 retail licences by April is completely disastrous, and according to economy experts, will cause the black market to thrive, which is exactly the opposite of what it set out to do in the first place by legalizing cannabis for adult use.
“Unfortunately, it’s turned out to be just a comedy of errors,” said Anindya Sen, economy professor at the University of Waterloo who specializes in the cannabis industry. “When you take those things together, it’s possible that despite being legalized, Ontario might become one of the biggest black markets in the world.”
Many other analysts have also suggested that there should be no limit on the number of stores allowed, even before the government changed its mind a few weeks ago.
“Community opt-outs and limited storefronts is a toxic combination which pretty much guarantees that the black market will thrive,” Sen said. “Capping retail outlets and having entire communities opt out makes the legal market in Ontario far less accessible.”
Ontario municipalities have 5 more days to decide if they will opt-in or out of having retail cannabis stores.