Canada’s 6th-largest city overturns cannabis store ban

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One of the largest cities in Canada has put out the welcome mat for legal cannabis retailers.

The City Council of Mississauga, the sixth-largest city by population in Canada and Ontario’s third-largest, voted Wednesday to allow legal cannabis retail stores to set up shop within the city.

The city, near Toronto, had been among nearly 70 municipalities in Ontario that prohibited regulated cannabis stores after Canada legalized adult-use sales in late 2018.

Mississauga’s population of 721,599, according to the federal 2016 census, is higher than most provincial capitals.

So bringing cannabis sales under the watchful eye of regulators is expected to open the door to significant retail opportunities in the city.

“Being Ontario’s third largest city, the Mississauga market presents us with a lucrative revenue and growth opportunity for both High Tide and our Canna Cabana brand, given its size and scale,” High Tide CEO Raj Grover said in a statement.

High Tide has 151 locations across Canada, which the company says makes it the largest nonfranchised retailer in the country.

“Today’s vote is a victory for everyone who wants to drive out the sale of illegal, untested and non-age-gated cannabis within Mississauga and paves the way for new jobs and investment to come into the city.”

The city’s elected council had addressed the issue of the store ban a number of times in recent years.

Omar Khan, chief communications and public affairs officer at High Tide, said he hopes Mississauga’s decision will inspire other municipal holdouts in Ontario to rethink their prohibitions.

“As Mississauga’s experience shows, where legal and regulated cannabis sales are prohibited, unregulated, criminal elements will fill the void,” he said.

Among cities with a population of more than 50,000, the following opted out of Ontario’s legal cannabis store regulatory regime:

  • Markham, 328,966.
  • Vaughan, 306,233.
  • Richmond Hill, 195,022.
  • Oakville, 193,832.
  • Whitby, 128,377.
  • Newmarket, 84,224.
  • Caledon, 66,502.

High Tide trades as HITI on the Nasdaq and the TSX Venture Exchange.