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Matt Maurer speaks to Global News about Ontario communities opting out of cannabis sales

Matt Maurer of Torkin Manes' Cannabis Law Group, spoke to Global News about Ontario communities opting out of cannabis sales.

Why did so many cities opt out of cannabis sales?

Many Ontario communities opted out in part because the decision process alienated them, says cannabis lawyer Matt Maurer of Torkin Manes.

“For the type of political decision that had to be made, it was a tight timeline to begin with,” he says. “When you factor in the election, and the holidays and all those other things, it gets even tighter.” (Local elections happened in October of 2018, reducing the time for debate.)

The hurry and inflexibility of the process annoyed some local councillors across the province, putting the cautious on the same side as more serious opponents of legalization itself, he says.

“The concerns really fell into one of two camps. Either it was ‘We just don’t like this, in general, and we’re not ready to do it, as a council,’ or ‘It’s too fast, we have no control over where the stores go, we don’t know what impact this is going to have, we just need to think about this and take a wait-and-see approach,'” said Maurer.

Despite the rush to make decisions, very few cannabis stores actually opened in the year following, Maurer says.

“In hindsight, you didn’t need to move that quickly,” he argues. “Municipalities might have opted in if they had had more time to evaluate things.”

Councils were also annoyed by having no authority over where cannabis stores were sited, unlike strip clubs and payday loan stores, Maurer says.

This article was originally published on Global News.

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