Objective 1 - To identify relevant criteria and limitations from literature related to siting approved marijuana dispensaries
To determine factors and variables related to retail cannabis storefronts in Ontario, a comprehensive literature review, as well as a review of current and relevant legislation and political documentswas completed. While each jurisdiction to legalize marijuana globally has considered unique factors in the siting of cannabis storefronts, this project considers those factors that have been adopted in the literature as best practice, as well as the factors identified as important by provincial and municipal politicians in the City of Guelph. These factors are generally separated into two domains, spatial factors which dictate the geographic location of marijuana storefronts, and non-spatial socioeconomic factors of neighborhoods which must be considered. A summarization of all constraints and criteria can be found in Table 1.
In all states where recreational marijuana is available in retail locations, proximity to schools has been identified as a key factor in determining the location of these storefronts (Nemeth, 2014). Furthermore, 23 US states have legalized medical marijuana dispensaries for which, all but two states required a spatial buffer between schools and medical marijuana dispensaries (Nemeth, 2014). The distance of these buffers vary from 300 feet in Washington DC, to 1320 feet in Los Angeles, with no widely accepted school buffer identified in the literature (Nemeth, 2014). The Ontario government has promised to follow suit, ensuring that stores are not to be located "in close proximity to schools", though the Government of Ontario has not yet defined what is considered close (Ministry of Finance, 2017; Ontario's Cannabis Retail and Distribution Model, 2017). While there appears to be very limited literature on the impact of these buffers, they are considered a political necessity, which the Government of Ontario has committed to, and therefore will be considered in the model. A minimum buffer of 300 meters is used to create a constraint area, equal to about 1000 feet, which is the most common distance used to date when siting cannabis dispensaries in the United Stated (Nemeth, 2014). Any area beyond this 300 meter mandatory buffer is assigned a suitability score, where suitability values increase with distance resulting in further areas from schools recieving the highest suitability scores.
The provincial government has stated a desire to limit the stores proximity to public parks, a constraint that only the city of Phoenix has legislated, with a buffer of 1000 feet (Nemeth, 2014., Ministry of Finance, 2017). The Ontario government has not stated a minimum distance between parks and storefronts, and there is no widely accepted buffer distance in the literature. A minimum distance of 300 meters, approximately equal to 1000 feet, is used to create a constraint area, with areas beyond this distance scored the further the better to create a suitability score for proximity to parks. Additionally, parks, churches, and other "sensitive" land uses have generally been actively avoided when siting cannabis stores in the United States and will be done so for this approach as well (Nemeth, 2014).
The Ontario government has stated that while the LCBO will be the body responsible for over the counter sales of marijuana, the marijuana stores will only sell approved marijuana products (Cannabis legalization, 2017). The Ontario government is adamant about keeping roads safe and believe separating the retail of these substances is essential to meet this goal. Research has shown that combining both substances then driving is significantly more dangerous than driving on small doses of either (Sewell, 2009). The model takes into account the location of LCBOs and Beer Stores in the City of Guelph so that dissemination areas where these exist now will not be considered for cannabis storefronts.
Making the cannabis stores accessible by public transit has been a stated goal of the Ontario government, and has been identified as a key factor to shift consumers away from the illicit marijuana market (Consultation Report, 2018). While no research is currently available to support this, it is widely accepted that access to products such as healthy foods and medications strongly influence consumption of those products (Committee on Examination of the Adequacy of Food Resources and SNAP Allotments, 2013). As Guelph Transit is the main avenue of public transportation within the City of Guelph, accessibility is determined based on distance to bus stops provided by this service. In literature, bus stops within 400 meters distance, or about a 5 minute walk are considered accessible by walking as walking is the main mode of transport to public transportation in urban areas (Foda, 2010; Daniels, 2013). This distance is calculated based on a circular buffer, and doesn't consider pedestrian connectivity (Foda, 2010). The model assigns a suitability score with closer areas suited as better, and areas beyond 400 meters determined inaccessible.
Some municipalities have considered sensitive locations such as tourist locations, churches, places of worship and other culturally important landmarks in the siting of marijuana stores (Nemeth, 2014). The model considers culturally sensitive locations within the city in order to increase political acceptability of store siting. The model assigns a suitability score of 0 to any areas within 100 meters of these locations, and beyond 100 meters a higher suitability score, increasing with distance.
The model considers population density per square kilometer, with higher population densities assigned a higher suitability score. High population density areas are widely considered as more desirable for any store, as they are to serve as many people as possible to secure financial success (Sadler, 2016).
The storefront will be located in an area with the smallest proporation of minors (individuals under the age of 19) in attempt to keep the products out of the hands of our youth. The density of minors per dissemination area was calculated as to avoid locating the dispensary close to a high density of minors. This aligns with the provinces goal of not making it easier for youths to attain marijuana.
Recreational marijuana storefronts must be situated on commercial land, and thus the model considers the zoning regulations in the city of Guelph. The model assigns binary values to dissemination areas which include commercial zoning assigned one, suitable and all other areas receiving zero as they are not suitable for analysis.