MPA Major Research Papers

Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Public Administration


Political Science


Bill Irwin

Geographical Areas



The rationale for this study is founded on the important role of municipal governments within the domain of cannabis legalization in Canada. In Ontario, a strategy of privatization for physical cannabis stores was implemented by the provincial government. The policy gave municipalities the authority to decide whether they opted in or out of physical cannabis stores within their specific communities. This scenario of allowing local governments to determine the introduction of physical cannabis stores has demonstrated a need for a deeper understanding towards the various factors that influence the decisions of municipal policy makers. This is a unique situation that offers tremendous learning opportunities in determining the role that local government policy makers have on cannabis legalization policies. This exploratory study utilizes an inductive research process as the qualitative data results will lead to a working hypothesis. The data collection tool for this study is a semi-structured interview. As a multi-case study, interviews were done with six councillors from five municipalities that represent different municipal size classifications. These municipalities have chosen to opt out of retail cannabis stores. The study is cross-sectional due to the fact that information was gained from the particular moment in time that municipalities decided to opt out of retail cannabis stores. Ultimately, this study’s overall aim is to provide a greater understanding towards the influences, motivations and decisions arrived upon by municipal councils that decided to opt out of physical cannabis stores.