The city of Kitchener, Waterloo and Township of Wilmot have voted to allow licensed retail cannabis stores.

The mayors of both Kitchener and Waterloo said the decision for them came down to reducing the criminal element of cannabis sales.

“I don’t think anybody wants retail cannabis stores, but at the end of the day you have to take a stand whether you support the free market or the black market,” said Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworksy.

Waterloo Region Chief of Police Bryan Larkin supports the decision.

“By having a regulated sales approach we know there are stringent guidelines set not only provincially and federally around packaging and around control and sale,” said Larkin.

Last week the Ford government held a lottery and selected 25 applicants who will have a chance to open a retail store.

The winners have to hand in their application, along with a $6,000 fee and a $50,000 letter of credit, before receiving final approval.

It is unclear if any of the applicants are located in Waterloo region.

The City of Cambridge will vote on licensed retail cannabis stores today.