Article by Brian Lilley, Toronto Sun
Suburban mayors and councillors who voted not to allow retail cannabis shops in their jurisdiction may have felt they were doing what they could to regulate how and where pot would be sold in their neighbourhoods, but they are wrong. Very wrong..The argument at the time from many politicians was that municipalities needed a greater say in where stores could be located. It’s an argument with some merit. Municipalities should have a say..Yet after the province said no to that municipal request, many mayors said no..“Simply put: If stores are to be permitted in Mississauga, we need to have greater say about what works best for our community,” Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie said in a statement after her council voted to opt out..Well, it’s been just more than a year and a half since cannabis became legal and since municipalities such as Markham, Richmond Hill and Mississauga opted out, yet pot remains readily available..Go on Google and search for cannabis stores in Mississauga and you’ll be flooded with ads from illegal retailers offering delivery, some even claiming to have retail stores in the Square One mall..The more tech-savvy might just install the Weedmaps app and have delivery options from retailers such as Duber or Cannabee. There are also illegal retail outlets with store fronts set up..It’s hard for any municipality to say that they are taking a principled stand in wanting to have a say in where pot shops can set up when you’ve banned legal ones but allow the illegal ones to operate..It’s not like there aren’t penalties for operating an illegal store. Fines can run as high as $250,000 but that doesn’t seem to stop them. A search on Weedmaps offered me dozens of options to have pot, or even hash, delivered right to my door if I lived in Markham, Mississauga or Richmond Hill..There is also the possibility of criminal charges..York Regional Police have had a number of cannabis busts in recent months including 360 pounds in a van in April, 580 pounds of illegal cannabis seized on May 15 and the May 31 bust of a delivery driver caught with a variety of products..Peel Regional Police conducted a bust of an illegal pot shop in Mississauga on May 13. A few weeks earlier they busted one in Brampton, a city that allows licenced shops..It’s clear, though, that police could spend a lot more time busting illegal pot shops and delivery services — perhaps too much of their time if they went after them all.