Town of Newmarket opts out of allowing retail cannabis stores

The town of Newmarket has decided it will opt out of allowing private retail cannabis stores within its jurisdiction.

At a special council meeting on Jan. 15, town councillors voted in favour of opting out of allowing bricks-and-mortar shops within the municipality.

The province has given municipalities until Jan. 22 to decide whether to allow the pot shops within their jurisdiction.

If a municipality decides to opt out, they must notify the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) before the deadline, or they will be opted in by default.

The AGCO is also responsible for approving and denying site applications.

According to a news release issued by the town of Newmarket on Monday, council expressed that municipalities require local control of how many stores are permitted and greater planning authority should be given over the location of private cannabis retail stores.

“The Town of Newmarket will be taking a measured approach to this topic, and will review and revisit Council’s decision in a year’s time,” Newmarket mayor, John Taylor, said in the release. “By then, we hope more information will be available and we are able to learn from the experiences of the municipalities who have opted in.”

Now that the town has decided to opt out, residents will have to travel outside of Newmarket to purchase cannabis legally from a retail store once they open, or will have to purchase online through the Ontario Cannabis Store.

Currently, the only legal way to purchase cannabis in Ontario is online through the Ontario Cannabis Store.

The first 25 bricks-and-mortar stores are expected to open across the province on April 1, 2019.

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