Southwestern Ontario, one of Canada’s largest pot-growing belts, could be frozen out of the marijuana retail business amid the Ontario Progressive Conservative government’s abrupt move to limit legal marijuana stores for the entire province to 25 chosen in a lottery.
Critics are fuming about yet another 11th-hour change to the industry in Ontario, which has already delayed storefront pot sales by months and where as many as 1,000 stores were expected with no limits on retail licences under Doug Ford’s new government.
The restricted rollout of only 25 stores for Canada’s most populous province, even fewer than the former Liberal government proposed as a first phase, will do nothing to fight illegal sales in the black market, one London MPP warned.
“It’s a huge concern, because part of the rationale for a retail model — whether it was the one proposed under the previous government, or what Doug Ford has announced — is to control the illegal cannabis market,” London West NDP MPP Peggy Sattler said Friday.
“If Southwestern Ontario has seven or fewer retail outlets, it’s not going to make a dent in the illegal cannabis market,” she said.
“We were concerned when the Liberals announced 40 outlets (provincewide). Twenty-five is just going to make things so much worse.”