Chamber Encourages Hamilton City Council to Opt-In to Cannabis Retail

· by b.caramento@hamiltonchamber.ca

As of October 17th, recreational cannabis was legalized across Canada by the Federal Government.

Presently, Ontarians can access recreational cannabis online through the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS.ca).

As of April 1st, 2019, the private retail model for cannabis that will launch across Ontario, in municipalities that opt-in to physical retail locations.

The City of Hamilton has sought out the Chamber’s input on this impending decision.

The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce supports legitimate recreational cannabis retail stores in Hamilton and thereby recommends that city councillors ‘opt-in’ and allow their existence within city limits as of April 1st, 2019.

You can read our full submission below or view the document here: HCC Municipal Cannabis Submission Letter.

Dear Mayor Eisenberger & Hamilton City Councillors,

Since its inception in 1845, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce has served as the
definitive voice of local business. Throughout its history, the Chamber has played an
important role in advocating for policies that enhance the social and economic
prosperity of our city.

Over the years, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and the City of Hamilton have
maintained a constructive dialogue to address the concerns of our 1,000 members and
the wider business community. Under this capacity, we thank the City’s Director,
Licensing and By-Law Services, Ken Leendertse, for sitting down with us to seek our
input. This letter is our official position on the question of whether physical cannabis
retail stores should be permitted in Hamilton.

The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce supports legitimate recreational cannabis
retail stores in Hamilton and thereby recommends that city councillors ‘opt-in’ and
allow their existence within city limits as of April 1st, 2019.

The cannabis industry is now a legal form of agriculture and commerce that is already
contributing to the further diversification of our economy. Deloitte projects the legal
sales of cannabis to generate up to $4.34 billion across Canada in the first year of
legalization alone (full report found here). It would be a missed opportunity to disallow
legitimate brick and mortar retail businesses that are looking to contribute to the local
economy.

The City of Hamilton is already establishing a strong market share in the booming
cannabis industry, and we are poised for growth. At present, Hamilton is home to
several licensed cannabis producers that employ hundreds, if not thousands of people,
and bring in billions of dollars in revenue. Allowing vertical integration, from seed to
production to physical retail, is not just sensible economics, but allows our local
economy to have greater participation in this growing, profitable industry.

For those concerned about a lack of local control under the provincial regime, we
remind councillors that consumer preference and the law of market competition will
ultimately determine the right number of retailers for our city and drive up the
individual standards of those retailers. As noted in Deloitte’s market report, “like any
other retailer, those selling cannabis will need to meet or exceed [consumer]
expectations and needs if they intend to succeed”. This suggests legitimate retail stores,
if permitted in Hamilton, would be both profitable and reputable. If neighbouring
communities decide to “opt-out” of retail, our local stores will be also bringing in
revenue from outside our city.

Finally, the large number of cannabis dispensaries in Hamilton that existed prior to
legalization suggests consumer demand is strong enough to support the existence of
retail in this city. And despite online delivery options now available, Deloitte research
also indicates that almost half (47%) of all recreational products in Canada will be
bought from physical locations, based on consumer preference. Prohibiting recreational
cannabis retail stores in Hamilton would ignore clear consumer preferences that have
been established – it would simply be unrealistic and would just encourage continued
illicit retail operations.

Based on these considerations, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce endorses the
approval of legitimate recreational cannabis retail stores in Hamilton.

The Chamber is pleased to play a role in facilitating a constructive dialogue on critically
important municipal issues. Thank you for your consideration.

For more information, please contact: Bianca Caramento | Policy Analyst | Hamilton Chamber of Commerce | t: 905-522-1151 ext: 230 | e: b.caramento@hamiltonchamber.ca