As the first retail cannabis stores in Ontario get rolling, one busy region that was seemingly forgotten was Waterloo. This has local politicians in the area as well as the chief of police shaking their heads.
“One of the key recommendations of the end of prohibition of cannabis… it was designed to actually create a regulated, controlled and lawful market and so it’s concerning that our community [and] users will not have access to regulated, controlled stores,” said Waterloo Police Chief Bryan Larkin in an interview with CBC.
Larkin is frustrated with the lack of retail as it would have been a significant catalyst in ending the local black market in his region.
Larkin’s sentiment is shared by Kitchener Centre MPP Laura Mae Lindo. “One of my biggest concerns, and one of our biggest concerns as part of the official Opposition, is that this will contribute to the black market,” she says.
The closest region with retail stores is London Ontario, which has one store currently open already and two more on the way. One retail cannabis adviser said that part of the reason Waterloo did not get its own store was due to a rumour that nearby Cambridge had a retail location planned. This location never became a reality and acted as a catalyst to the current hole in physical legal cannabis access for the Waterloo area.
A spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Finance stated that the limited number of store licences is a temporary measure due to the national supply shortage of cannabis. “When Ontario has determined that the federal government has provided for enough reliable supply, Ontario will issue further retail store licences,” the spokesperson said in an email.
Photo courtesy of Explore Waterloo Region