Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says the provincial Progressive Conservative government’s sudden move last week to phase in legal retail cannabis stores is “probably wise” in the context of a product shortage, but he still hopes Ottawa will get three of the five stores slated to open in eastern Ontario this spring.
Mere hours after Ottawa city councilunanimously approved allowing pot shops in the capital — based on the understanding that the province would not cap the number of store licences awarded — the Ontario governmentannounced Thursday night it would only allow 25 stores to open on April 1, 2019, and then gradually license additional shops.
Finance Minister Vic Fedeli and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney cited “severe supply shortages across the country” as a main reason for the change.
Watson said he backs the province’s move to roll out the stores in stages if “the capacity to produce the product in time” isn’t there, suggesting irked customers might return to the illegal market for their marijuana if the legal shops don’t deliver.
“You’ll end up with all this infrastructure in place — store signs and everything else — and then two days into it, you’ve run out of marijuana and the public feels very frustrated and then they go back to the black market,” Watson said in a year-end interview with Global News on Monday.