Burlington, Hamilton set to vote on cannabis storefronts

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

Burlington City Council is scheduled to vote Monday night.

Hamilton politicians will be next, holding their debate during a special meeting of the general issues committee on Tuesday.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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