Some of Canada’s largest cities are weed deserts

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After opting out of legal cannabis stores leading up to legalization in 2018, Mississauga, Ontario city council again voted against allowing legal retailers to open up shop in the sprawling suburban municipality with more than 830,000 residents.

‘Boon to the illicit market’

Nearly 70 municipalities in Ontario opted out of legal weed, leaving more than two million residents without a local brick-and-mortar shop. In British Columbia, 12 municipalities including Abbotsford, Surrey and Burnaby have opted out. As a result, clusters of stores have popped up along the borders of these so-called “weed deserts,” but advocates and industry reps say it’s also helped the unregulated market thrive.

“Mississauga City Council has voted 8 to 4 against opting into legal retail cannabis sales within municipal boundaries,” tweeted Omar Yar Khan, the senior VP of corporate and public affairs at High Tide. “It’s a boon to the illicit market within Canada’s 6th largest city.”  

But.. why?

Some councillors are concerned that Ontario laws don’t give them enough power to restrict store locations to protect congregate settings or groups of stores competing in the same neighbourhoods.

Nanny state nonsense

Mississauga residents overwhelmingly support legal stores. But not unlike some states in the U.S., governments are still stuck in the prohibition mindset. But not all is lost: Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, who voted against the stores back in 2018, had a change of heart this time around. She tweeted a thread explaining why.

“I support opting in because Mississauga is behind the times,” she wrote. “There is no denying that our residents use cannabis and we must give them options to buy it.”

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