MDB Insight Blog


Does Your Community Want to Opt Out of Recreational Cannabis Outlets?

On October 17, 2018, marijuana will become legal in Canada, with certain restrictions. According to the Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario (AMCTO), the province will provide municipalities with a one-time opportunity to opt out of allowing physical cannabis retail outlets within their jurisdiction.

Whether municipalities opt out, however, is a decision that each municipality will need to weigh carefully, in conjunction with members of their communities. On one hand, there are economic benefits to embracing recreational cannabis retail outlets. On the other hand, residents may have concerns. These concerns should be taken into account and addressed before determining whether to opt out of recreational cannabis retail outlets in your municipality.

Recreational Cannabis Retail Outlets: Pros and Cons


The biggest benefit of having recreational cannabis retail outlets in your community is economic. Taxation of legal cannabis businesses is expected to provide the community with a new source of revenue. The argument here is that people who want to buy marijuana will find a way to do so whether or not physical retail outlets are present in their community. So why not benefit from the revenue?


Residents’ concerns about legal marijuana outlets are typically formulated around arguments such as:

  • The health impact of second-hand smoke from marijuana
  • The possibility of impaired driving and compromised mental faculties due to use of marijuana
  • Increased exposure of the drug to minors

Effective public polling would give you insight into where your community stands with respect to physical cannabis retail outlets. On one hand, a majority of residents may be open to having these outlets in their community and the answer would be clear: opt in. But responses could indicate a mixed view. Even so, a mixed view means that residents are articulating their concerns; your next step is to address these concerns, whatever they may be.

Addressing residents’ concerns will lead to one of two changes: some of them will feel more comfortable with the idea of having physical outlets in their community, or they may be even more adamant about wanting to opt out.

Either way, you will have your answer. And a subsequent poll will give you the evidence you need for Council to make an informed decision.


Polls: Know If Residents Want Recreational Cannabis Outlets

MDB Insight’s Citizen Satisfaction IQTM can help municipalities zero in on hot-button topics such as opting outPolls: Know If Residents Want Recreational Cannabis Outlets of recreational cannabis outlets. By asking residents direct questions and by providing real-time updates, you will have the information you need at your fingertips. This will allow you to make a sound decision when, for example, the short opt-out window becomes available to Ontario municipalities.

And because Citizen Satisfaction IQTM uses a derived importance approach, you will receive reliable information on derived resident priorities, rather than simply having residents list priorities themselves.

The benefits of Citizen Satisfaction IQTM over traditional surveys are numerous, and include:

Don’t leave important decisions to guesswork: get your residents involved and get the information you need to make a decision that reflects what the majority of your community’s stakeholders want.

This data is also the evidence you need to justify your plan to Council.

To learn more about how to prove the efficacy of your policies, download this checklist:

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