Cannabis buds lay along a drying rack at the CannTrust Niagara Greenhouse Facility in Fenwick, Ont., on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Tijana Martin

Cities face tight timelines for ‘opting out’ of hosting legal cannabis shops

Ontario municipalities can decide not to endorse private marijuana shops

  • Aug. 22, 2018 12:00 a.m.

Ontario cities likely won’t know until after this fall’s municipal elections how much time they have to decide against allowing brick-and-mortar cannabis shops in their communities.

The provincial government announced last week that municipalities would be given a one-time opportunity to opt out of hosting retail pot outlets.

RELATED: Which B.C. marijuana stores will survive?

But at a meeting in Ottawa, provincial officials have told municipal leaders that a final opt-out date has not been set.

That means newly elected municipal politicians will have a very short window of time to decide whether they want to allow pot shops in their communities.

Municipal elections are to be held Oct. 22 in Ontario — five days after the federal Liberal government’s cannabis legalization measures go into effect.

While municipalities can decide not to endorse private marijuana shops, provincial officials say they will be able to opt in at a later date.

RELATED: B.C. waits to add ‘craft cannabis’ to its retail system

Ontario residents 19 and over will be able to purchase cannabis online through the Ontario Cannabis Store as of Oct. 17, but sales at physical stores won’t start until April 2019.

Police chiefs, meanwhile, told the Association of Municipalities of Ontario gathering that police services across the provinces will be ready for legalization before Oct. 17.

The Canadian Press

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