Toronto city councillors voted 20-4 Thursday evening to allow privately run cannabis stores to operate in Toronto. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Councillors in Toronto, Ottawa vote to allow retail cannabis stores

TORONTO — Councillors in Toronto have voted to allow retail pot shops in Canada’s most populous city.

Councillors voted 20-4 Thursday evening to allow privately run cannabis stores to operate in Toronto.

The decision came on the same day councillors in Ottawa voted to allow pot shops to open in the nation’s capital, and a day after councillors in Markham and Mississauga voted not to.

The Progressive Conservative government has given communities in Ontario until Jan. 22 to decide whether they want to opt out of hosting the stores, which are set to open starting in April.

Currently, a government-run online store is the only way to purchase recreational pot in the province.

Toronto Mayor John Tory says not allowing retail stores to operate in the city would only serve to encourage the black market.

Shortly after Toronto councillors voted to allow retail pot shops, the provincial government announced it would take a “phased approach” to authorizing private sellers, citing nationwide supply shortages.

In a statement, the Progressive Conservative government said it plans to issue 25 initial licences through a lottery process to be carried out in January.

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