February 21, 2018

Legalizing pot in Ontario, some things to know

10 September 2017, 02:28 | Kara Nash

Province solicits public feedback on pot legalization

Finance Minister Charles Sousa left Attorney General Yasir Naqvi and Health Minister Eric Hoskins announce Ontario's plans for the sale of marijuana next year. But the province's blueprint falls well short of the purported goal of driving out

The province plans to open 40 stores by July 1 next year, growing to 80 in 2019 and 150 by the end of 2020, and to control all legal online sales via a government-run website.

The new measures to prepare the state for the proposed Federal Cannabis Act, were announced at a news conference Friday by the territory's Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, Finance Minister Charles Sousa and Health Minister Eric Hoskins.

Officials say the new retailer will likely be a subsidiary of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, but kept completely separate from the LCBO's chain of booze retail outlets.

Reicin also said the e-commerce component of Ontario's plan could be a "big boon" for the industry, offering more opportunities to sell marijuana outside of the relatively small number of provincially-run stores that the government has planned.

Apart from restricting the sale of cannabis, certain regulations have also been imposed on the consumption of marijuana by people.

In April, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau unveiled plans to legalize recreational marijuana by July 1, 2018.

Sousa was quoted by the Star as saying: "When it comes to retail distribution, the LCBO has the expertise, the experience, and the insight to ensure careful control of cannabis, helping us to discourage illicit market activity and see that illegal dispensaries are shut down".

"Let me be clear: These pot dispensaries are illegal and will be shut down", Mr. Naqvi said.

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"The argument against doing it would be that you're selling two intoxicants in one place", Morgan said. Private sales would require a new branch of the bureaucracy to manage dispensary applications, inspections and compliance, she said.

"I think that some sort of government system will be established".

Smoking pot in Ontario will be easier than ever starting in July 2018. That model also lines up with the federal government's expectations, such as prohibiting the sale of edibles and imposing restrictions on advertising.

"Today's announcement is what we have been calling for since the legalization debate began", said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE).

"They can try to drive us out of business, but if they're not going to provide quality cannabis and variety to people at the same time, if they're only going to sell flowers to people and not provide concentrates or even edibles, it's going to be hard for them to make money for sure, because they're not listening to what people need", she said.

Experts say choking off the black market - which is booming through online and illegal storefront sales - will be key to the long-term success of legalization.

"We are working closely with our partners to ensure law enforcement is well trained, to build capacity across the country and at our border, and to raise awareness about the dangers of drug-impaired driving", Goodale said in a statement.

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