Mississauga could vote whether to approve cannabis stores soon

| David Brown

One of the largest cities in Ontario may have moved one step closer to allowing cannabis stores.

Mississauga General Council voted to receive a motion today calling on the city to reverse its original ban on cannabis stores that has been in place since late 2018.

The motion, brought forward by Councillor Dipika Damerla, still needs to be approved by the council as a whole at the city council meeting on April 19.

The motion met with resistance from some councillors who cited concerns from some residents and said they feel allowing cannabis stores takes control away from the city. 

With over 800,000 residents Mississauga is the second-largest city in the Greater Toronto Area and the third-largest in Ontario. It was one of more than 60 municipalities in Ontario that initially opted out of allowing cannabis stores within city limits. 

Ontario allows municipalities to opt out of allowing cannabis stores, but if they do opt in at any point they can not later reverse the decision. If passed by Council on April 19, the resolution would need to be made available to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) within three business days of its enactment.

A city staff report from March notes that the ban means that Mississauga residents “continue to be disproportionately served by the illegal cannabis market compared to municipalities that have opted in.”

It also highlights that Mississauga is missing out on much of the revenue from the provincial government, which has shared around $44 million of the provincial share of federal excise taxes with cities that allowed cannabis stores. That money is now distributed and will not be available to Mississauga or any other city that opts in in the future. 

The staff report also notes that while municipalities have the right to object to the location of a cannabis store, the AGCO, which oversees provincial licensing of stores, has never denied a licence to an applicant because a municipality objected.

Map via AGCO

According to data from the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS), the GDP contribution of legal cannabis in Ontario is approximately $13.3 billion and has created over 48,000 jobs. In 2021/22, the OCS generated a net income of $184 million, up from $70 million in the 2020/21 period. 

An OCS report from February says that 47% of cannabis consumers in Mississauga say they purchase cannabis from illegal dispensaries, 61% from “an individual,” and 42% from illicit online stores or “MoMs” (Mail order Marijuana). 

Legal stores in surrounding communities can also deliver to residents of Mississauga.