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More than 50 new licensed cannabis stores in application stage in Hamilton

About a dozen licensed Cannabis stores are operating in Hamilton, with more than 50 others waiting for approval to open their doors.
About a dozen licensed Cannabis stores are operating in Hamilton, with more than 50 others waiting for approval to open their doors. Global News

Several city councillors are voicing concerns about the proliferation of provincially-licensed cannabis stores in Hamilton.

Currently, there are about a dozen pot shops in operation throughout the city, but the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario website shows 53 others in the application stage.

Read more: Hamilton opts-in to legal pot shops, after divided council deadlocks on opting out

Ward 8 Coun. John Paul Danko says they are “clustering” to target certain populations, pointing to Upper James Street on the central mountain where five of the proposed stores would be located.

Ward 14 Coun. Terry Whitehead is more specific about the clustering, pointing to St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School on the west mountain.

Read more: Hamilton public school board chair voices concerns on marijuana stores

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There are “two strip plazas within a two-minute walk of this school,” said Whitehead, “both these strip plazas have applications for marijuana shops — now think about that.”

Click to play video 'New campaign suggests possible link between cannabis and psychosis' New campaign suggests possible link between cannabis and psychosis
New campaign suggests possible link between cannabis and psychosis

The provincial government, in setting the rules for licensed cannabis stores, required a 150-metre buffer from schools.

That distancing requirement was a disappointment to Hamilton City Council, which had argued back in 2018, for a minimum 300-metre separation from sensitive land uses such as schools, parks and community centres.

Read more: Ancaster councillor says proposed pot shop in the wrong location

Ward 6 Coun. Tom Jackson predicts “it’s going to take a cannabis store opening up, or a cluster of them opening up, in a minister’s riding somewhere near some schools,” before the province realizes “we have a problem here.”

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Jackson says one good thing to come from the COVID-19 pandemic is that it has delayed the processing of licenses for the new stores.

A map from the AGCO’s website shows potential locations for 53 Hamilton-area pot stores now in the application stage. AGCO / Open Street Map
A map from the AGCO’s website shows potential locations for 53 Hamilton-area pot stores now in the application stage. AGCO / Open Street Map. AGCO / Open Street Map