cannabis ontario

Toronto just took a big step toward stopping new cannabis stores from opening

There are few blocks of downtown Toronto that you can walk without coming across a cannabis store (or five), and the city has just taken a big step toward limiting the number of newcomers to the already very saturated game.

While residents have been complaining of too many dispensaries in their neighbourhoods, politicians, too, have taken notice of the trend, with Ontario surpassing the very big milestone of 1,000 authorized weed shops in August.

Approximately a third of them are in T.O. specifically, many of them occupying the spaces of other types of businesses that were forced to shutter due to the pandemic.

Mayor John Tory said at the beginning of the year that he would like to see the province " take a second look at the ground rules for these licenses" given the proliferation of such storefronts, especially in certain areas.

MPPs such as Scarborough-Agincourt representative Aris Babikian and Davenport's Marit Stiles have also spoken out on the topic — the latter actually introduced a bill last month to amend the Cannabis Licence Act and change the approval process for cannabis retailers.

Under Stiles's Bill 29, the registrar in charge of approvals must "consider a resolution of the council of the municipality, in which are located the premises for which a person makes an application for a retail store authorization, as proof of the needs and wishes of the residents of the municipality."

Essentially, the city would have to greenlight any new store, and the desire for another pot shop in an area would have to be evident — unlikely, given how many there already are.

And at a Toronto City Council meeting this week, a motion to endorse that bill was unanimously passed.

The motion also asks for a complete moratorium on any new cannabis licenses and retailers in Toronto for one year or until Bill 29 is successfully adopted.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is the body behind the licensing of pot shops. It has been approving more and more shops at a faster pace lately in the face of fierce lobbying and an oversupply issue.

But, industry experts have warned that 2022 will bring mass closures of these stores across Ontario, with monthly sales dropping quite substantially over the last two years despite many saying customer interest is still very high.

It is indeed pretty hard to imagine, given the sheer number of dispensaries in the city, that all of them are seeing success.

Lead photo by

A Great Capture

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