Milton Opting Out of Cannabis Retail Locations

By: Laura Steiner

Milton will not have any Cannabis retail locations for now.  Council voted 7-2 to endorse a staff recommendation to opt out of the province’s plan for cannabis retail locations at their Monday evening meeting.

The main issue many councillors had was how to control it.  “We don’t have the tools to regulate it,” Ward 1 Regional Councillor Colin Best said.  The province of Ontario wants municipalities to treat cannabis retail as they would any other product including the zoning process.  Only 25 licenses will be granted via a lottery process to be conducted early next month by the Alcohol Gaming Commission of Ontario.  “We’re not going to get store in the first 25 stores,” Ward 2 Regional Councillor Rick Malboeuf said.  The City of Toronto has opted in, and will get five locations.

The two dissenting voices were Ward 1 Local Councillor Kristina Tesser-Derksen and Ward 3 local Councillor Rick Di Lorenzo.  Tesser-Derksen shares the concerns over the legislation’s  clarity, but also added:  “There are more benefits to opting in at this point.”  If Ontario’s portion of the excise tax is over $100 million, the province will share 50% with the municipalities. “I’d rather see Milton residents purchase it in Milton,”  Di Lorenzo said.  He proposed a motion to defer a final decision until January, which was defeated.

Municipalities that have opted out by January 22, 2019 can opt back in at any time.  Town staff suggested Council reconsider in December, 2019. Milton joins Halton Hills in opting out.  Burlington and Oakville councils have voted defer the issue until next month.