Why is Oakville the only major region not allowing legal cannabis sales?


Published May 13, 2023 at 8:30 am

Anthony Urciuoli/hamilton.insauga.com photo

There may be smoke from our neighbours to the east when it comes to finally permitting cannabis stores to open, but Oakville still isn’t lighting up to the idea.

While Mississauga City Council decided in late April to lift its prohibition on cannabis retail stores and permit them to locate and operate in the city, Oakville Mayor Rob Burton said the town has no interest in joining them.

Oakville is the largest municipality in the GTA to remain steadfast in its opposition.

After refusing for five years, Mississauga finally joined its neighbours in allowing the cannabis stores.

Brampton, Burlington, Hamilton, Milton and Halton Hills all have retail locations for pot.

The interest, the Oakville mayor told halton.insauga.com’s Khaled Iwamura in their monthly vide chat, just isn’t there.

“I don’t think Oakville is ready to go to pot,” said the mayor. “We just don’t get any demand for it. We do get a lot of residents not wanting it, so what are you going to do?”

In Canada, cannabis is legal for recreational and medicinal use under the federal Cannabis Act.

Mississauga refused at first, wanting cities to have more control in terms of locations and licensing.

The issue of illegal shops opening in the city and discovering that the experience that other cities had in opting-in has generally been positive and without major issues helped them with their decision to opt-in. .

Burton said illegal shops haven’t been an issue in Oakville.

“I’m not aware of any illegal cannabis shops in Oakville,” he said. “We have a really good police force in Halton. I don’t really see a problem here. It’s freely available, it’s legal. If you like it, enjoy it.”

It’s not like Oakville residents who like to spark up don’t have plenty of options to buy cannabis, he said.

“You can call up and they’ll deliver it,” Burton said. “Let’s all be real here.”

While Burton isn’t saying never, a lot will have to change before the town seriously considers allowing pot shops here.

“The bargain was a little off-putting for the town of Oakville. I’ll call it the provincial bargain,” said the Oakville mayor. “You would get a meager slice of the profits, but you have no ability to keep the shops from being too close to schools.

“You had no ability to prevent a plethora of them. It’s a category where planning doesn’t apply anymore. When you want to respect basic community differences and have planning, get back to us.”

Since 2018, the Government of Ontario has allowed recreational cannabis to be sold online or in privately-operated retail stores.

The location and operation of these private stores is controlled by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which is also responsible for regulating gaming and alcohol sales in the province.

In Ontario, the Cannabis Control Act, 2017 governs the cultivation, distribution, purchase, sale, consumption and possession of cannabis.

It includes that no authorized cannabis retailer can sell cannabis to:

  • a person under 19 years old
  • a person who appears under 25 unless they have required the person to provide identification to confirm that they are at least 19 years of age
  • a person who is or appears to be intoxicated


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