The recreational use of marijuana is just months away from being legalized in Canada, but how far a person will have to travel to a pot store may depend on how poor their neighborhood is.
Officials in Canada’s capital city have asked the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, which is scouting the city for places to open cannabis stores, to avoid neighborhoods that are “experiencing socio-economic stress,” The Ottawa Citizen reported.
Ottawa planners declined to elaborate on which neighborhoods should be off-limits, the newspaper reported, but the request is already getting backlash from people on Twitter who say the move would exclude poor neighborhoods from reaping the benefits of the July 1 legalization – better-paying jobs and legal access to pot products.
Others pointed out that liquor stores are in disadvantaged neighborhoods and have not destroyed them.
Some say it would make sense to bring legal pot shops to areas where illegal dispensaries are reportedly popping up and getting shut down.
There are about 18 marijuana dispensaries in Ottawa, according to the Ottawa Sun.
Ottawa is among 14 cities chosen for the first wave of government-run marijuana stores, CBC reported.
City Councilor Riley Brockington told The Ottawa Citizen he understands the sentiment behind keeping shops out of certain neighborhoods – protecting vulnerable people. But he called restricting the stores “problematic.”
“At what point do we let adults be adults,” he said.
The city in December agreed to sell marijuana at $7.77 a gram—$10 in Canadian dollars, Newsweek reported. Canadian officials told the Toronto Star that they’re keeping prices low in an attempt to get rid of the black market.
A study found that property prices for Colorado homes close to shops that started selling recreational marijuana in 2014 saw a roughly 8 percent boost, the Canadian Press reported. It remains to be seen whether a similar boost could take place in Canada.
According to estimates from Marijuana Business Daily, an industry publication, annual sales for Canada's recreational marijuana market could range between $2.3 billion and $4.5 billion by 2021, CNN reported.