Hamilton set to vote on cannabis storefronts; Burlington vote postponed

The question of whether to host legal cannabis shops in before politicians in Hamilton and Burlington this week.
The question of whether to host legal cannabis shops in before politicians in Hamilton and Burlington this week. Global News File

Burlington and Hamilton are next in line to decide if they want to host privately run cannabis stores.

Hamilton will hold their debate during a special meeting of the general issues committee on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Only 25 cannabis stores to open April 1: Ontario government

Burlington had originally planned to vote on Monday, but instead postponed a decision until Jan. 14 to allow for more public consultation on the issue.

The provincial government has given communities until Jan. 22 to decide whether they want to opt out of hosting the stores, which are set to open starting in April.

READ MORE: Markham, Mississauga opt out of cannabis stores

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Burlington Mayor Marianne Mead-Ward says cannabis storefronts will each employ 10 to 15 people and represent “a legitimate business opportunity.”

She insists the majority of people that she’s hearing from on the issue are in favour of the retail stores.

Meed-Ward says the message is “let’s not be hypocritical. If you drink wine, if you’ve had a couple to have a buzz or to relax and go to sleep, that’s no different than somebody having a joint.”

She also suggests it may be better for Burlington to opt in now because it will give the city access to provincial funds to help with things like enforcement.

READ MORE: Toronto council approves allowing cannabis retail stores to operate in city

In Hamilton, Ward 2 Coun. Jason Farr is unable to read the tea leaves, saying “it’s hard to predict how this debate is going to go” on Tuesday.

READ MORE: Cannabis legalization named top Canadian business news story of 2018

Arguments put forward by those in favour of opting in have included job creation and taking control over the black market.

Opponents to retail cannabis stores in Hamilton feel that municipalities are being shortchanged on revenues and that the province is allowing pot shops too close to schools.

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A motion to be presented by Ward 4 Coun. Sam Merulla will suggest that the city opt out of providing dispensaries for recreational cannabis until a sustainable revenue-sharing formula is established with the province.

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