cannabis store

John Tory wants more red tape for new cannabis stores in Toronto

Anyone who's walked down a main street in Toronto lately can attest to the fact that a glut of cannabis stores continue to pop up around the city, with multiple locations crowding a single neighbourhood or even one block.

According to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario's latest records, there are 232 Toronto dispensaries in various stages of application — including authorized to open — plus another 48 in North York, 47 in Scarborough, 32 in Etobicoke and 13 in East York at the time of publication.

Though the outlets may be enthusiastically welcomed by weed fans, the various brands are obviously facing stiff competition from one another, and now also some pushback from local politicians, including Toronto Mayor John Tory.

Tory has expressed his support of Conservative MPP for Scarborough-Agincourt Aris Babikian, who is a vocal opponent of any and all cannabis retailers in his riding, calling recent withdrawals of some applications "a great victory" for residents.

Babikian has been calling on the provincial government to tighten up its process for reviewing proposed dispensaries, which he says are "mushrooming" in number and causing neighbourhoods to "suffer" as a result.

And, it appears at least some of his constituents agree with him, indeed protesting against a number of forthcoming storefronts in the Scarborough area lately.

John Tory's office confirmed to the Scarborough Mirror this week in a somewhat vague statement that he is "happy to join MPP Aris Babikian in urging his own government to take a second look at the ground rules for these licenses" in order to "ensure that our neighbourhoods, and especially young people, are kept safe."

But it is ultimately a provincial issue, as the City notes that the "planning the locations and approval of licenses is solely up to the AGCO and the province."

For the downtown core, where the weed business seems booming and there appears to be little (though some) resistance from residents, we'll have to wait and see what any additional red tape for these operators could look like, and how it will impact slated openings if any new rules or processes actually do come into effect.

Lead photo by

Becky Robertson


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