While many of the nuances concerning the sale of legalized marijuana still have to be ironed out, Ontarians are beginning to get a clearer picture of how the province will deal with the looming end of weed prohibition.
Ontario was the first province to roll out its preliminary plans in early September, saying marijuana would be legally sold to people 19 and over at up to 150 stand-alone stores by 2020, with the first 40 stores opening by July 1, 2018 when the long-persecuted plant becomes legal.
Consumers would also be able to buy pot online through government controlled websites.
On Friday, the Ministry of Finance and LCBO identified the first 14 municipalities slated for brick-and-mortar cannabis stores.
- Sault Ste. Marie
- Thunder Bay
“Over the coming weeks, staff from the Ministry of Finance and the LCBO will meet with staff at the identified municipalities to discuss the guidelines and process for siting stores and local interests,” the LCBO said on its website.
“The guidelines will achieve our objectives of protecting youth by ensuring stores are not in close proximity to schools, while providing access within communities and addressing the illegal market.”
On Wednesday, the Liberal government said it planned to stamp out illegal dispensaries with harsh penalties included in the legislation.
Under the bill, people or businesses convicted of illegally selling or distributing cannabis could be hit with fines of up to $250,000 for individuals and/or jail of up to two years less a day.
Corporations would face even stiffer financial penalties of up to $1 million for the same offence.
The law would also allow police to immediately close premises they suspect are being used for the illegal sale or distribution of marijuana.
More details from Ontario’s marijuana plan: (The Canadian Press)
- The approach is modeled on the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, which regulates the sale of alcohol throughout the province
- The proposed minimum age to use, purchase and possess recreational cannabis in Ontario will be 19, the same as the current minimum age for alcohol
- The use of recreational marijuana will be prohibited in public places and workplaces.
- The LCBO will oversee the legal retail of cannabis in Ontario through new stand-alone cannabis stores and an online order service.
- LCBO stores selling cannabis won’t be selling alcohol
- Approximately 150 stand-alone stores will be opened by 2020, including 40 in July 2018, servicing all regions of the province.
- Online distribution will be available across Ontario from July 2018 onward through a site run by the LCBO
- Illicit cannabis dispensaries are not and will not be legal retailers. The province will pursue an enforcement strategy, working with municipalities, local police services, the OPP and the federal government to help shut them down
- Ontario will prohibit individuals under the age of 19 from possessing or consuming recreational cannabis, which will allow police to confiscate small amounts of cannabis from young people.
- The province’s approach to protecting youth will focus on prevention, diversion, and harm reduction without unnecessarily bringing them into contact with the justice system.
- Pricing and taxation decisions will come at a later date
- Legislation regulating the control of marijuana will be introduced in the fall