Hamilton is getting one of the first legal cannabis stores
The next closest LCBO-run stand-alone shops will be Kitchener and Mississauga
Hamilton will get one of the first government-run stand-alone cannabis stores in July 2018.
The city is one of 14 municipalities chosen for the first wave of LCBO-run stores. The agency and the Ministry of Finance announced the list Friday morning.
The next closest locations are Kitchener and Mississauga. The province plans to set up about 150 standalone shops by 2020. It aims to open 80 by July 2019.
The agency still doesn't know where it will locate the Hamilton store. It says it will meet with city staff in the coming weeks to talk about that. It also doesn't know yet whether it will be one store or several, it said in an email.
The goal is to have a store that is "not in close proximity to schools, while providing access within communities and addressing the illegal market."
Under the new structure, alcohol and cannabis won't be sold in the same store, said LCBO spokesperson Nicole Laoutaris. The Hamilton cannabis store "would sell only cannabis and related items."
Other communities "will be identified on an ongoing basis."
Hamilton already has dozens of illegal marijuana dispensaries, most of them dispensing medicinal marijuana. City council voted last month to meet with dispensary owners.
While some welcome legalization, others — including some city councillors — call it a corporate cash grab and an investment opportunity for people with Liberal ties.
At least one former dispensary owner says she has doubts one regional store would be enough to meet demand.
"Hamilton currently has 35 dispensaries selling cannabis," said Britney Guerra, former owner of the now-closed Cloud Nine lounge. "The 35 stores have an average line of 15 minutes. Tell me how one store will be enough to serve the population and people from out of town?"
Taras Natyshak, Ontario NDP Community Safety and Corrections Critic, issued a similar statement.
The plan bypasses areas such as Niagara and Brantford, he said. That number "cannot possibly serve the demand in a province the size of Ontario."
The LCBO is posting updates on its legal cannabis store plans at lcbocannabisupdates.com. Once it chooses a location, the public can give feedback there.
Here's the full list:
- Sault Ste. Marie.
- Thunder Bay.