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Ontario premier Kathleen Wynne wants answers on Toronto cannabis store location

Click to play video: 'Locations announced for first four provincially run cannabis stores' Locations announced for first four provincially run cannabis stores
April 11: Toronto's first Ontario Cannabis Store will be located at the corner of Victoria Park Avenue and Gerard Street East, while Thunder Bay, Guelph, and Kingston will also be getting one of the first provincially-run pot shops. Kamil Karamali reports – Apr 11, 2018

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says she wants to know how the decision to place one of the province’s first government-run cannabis stores less than a kilometre from a school was made.

Wynne says safety remains her top concern as the province rolls out a chain of cannabis stores to sell and distribute recreational marijuana, which will become legal July 1.

The premier says she will ask her staff about the decision-making process and whether the school board was involved.

READ MORE: Ontario Cannabis Store locations announced in Toronto, Guelph, Kingston and Thunder Bay

The first four locations announced Wednesday include an address in east Toronto that is close to at least one school, drawing concerns from the association representing Ontario’s public school boards.

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The Ontario Public School Boards Association says it is worried about having pot shops too close to schools and that school boards must be consulted.

READ MORE: LCBO releases logos for ‘Ontario Cannabis Store,’ and people are underwhelmed

It says that while some boards that have schools near the four locations may have been consulted, the site selection process itself isn’t clear and that needs to change.

Ontario was the first province to announce a detailed plan to sell and distribute marijuana after the federal government announced it would legalize recreational pot by this summer.

LISTEN: Brian Patterson from the Ontario Safety League weighs in

The province plans to set up a total of roughly 150 standalone cannabis stores by 2020, with the first 40 set to open this year.

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READ MORE: Ontario introduces marijuana legislation with steep fines for illegal dispensaries

The stores will be run by a subsidiary of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and the legal age to buy marijuana will be set at 19, the same as for alcohol and cigarettes.

The agency has said store locations would comply with local zoning rules, minimize proximity to schools and factor in where illegal dispensaries are currently operating.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa said Thursday there are ongoing discussions with municipalities and other stakeholders about the placement of the stores, but noted that finding appropriate locations is more difficult in cities due to density.

READ MORE: Ontario budget 2018: 5 things to know about cannabis legalization

“In certain urban communities it’s difficult to have that degree of separation,” Sousa said. What’s more, he said, “in some of these locations we have illegal dispensaries so we want to combat them.”

New Democrat Peter Tabuns said there’s no indication, however, that the government’s plan will help tackle the black market.

“I don’t think they’re going to have enough outlets to actually provide an alternative to people,” he said.

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