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Whitney Abrams posts "Ontario Announces its Cannabis Retail Model (Again)" on Canada Cannabis Legal

Aug 14, 2018

Cannabis lawyer Whitney Abrams discusses the announcement from the Ontario Government about it's policy on cannabis retail.

Ontario Announces its Cannabis Retail Model (Again)

Originally published on Canada Cannabis Legal by Whitney Abrams on ​August 13, 2018.​​

Whitney Abrams - Litigator and Cannabis Law LawyerWhen recreational cannabis becomes legal on October 17, 2018, Ontarians will no longer be driving out to their local Ontario Cannabis Store to get in line to purchase cannabis.  Today, after much speculation, Ontario announced that it will implement a “tightly regulated” private retail cannabis model.  This afternoon, Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney made the announcement on behalf of the province.

So, what’s the catch? Private retailers will not open their doors until April 2019, at the earliest.  (Cue the April 20th jokes now)

This will allow time for Ontario to launch consultations with municipalities, Indigenous communities, law enforcement, public health advocates, as well as other stakeholders and to observe the private retail implementation in other provinces in the country like Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan and take notes.  There has been no deadline set for the consultation period.

Until private retailers are open, and beginning on October 17, 2018, Ontarians 19 years and older will be able to purchase recreational cannabis online through the Ontario Cannabis Store.  The Ontario Cannabis Store, run by the government, “will not be in the business of running physical cannabis stores.”  The online system will be equipped with a verification system that will “ensure safe at home delivery for cannabis products, thereby meeting the federally imposed obligation that provinces are ready for retail sales for the start of legalization.” The Ontario Cannabis Store will also be responsible for wholesale in the province.

Despite a zero-tolerance policy in place for dispensaries in the province and a caution from the government for illegally-run dispensary owners today to “stop what they are doing”, it seemed unclear whether or not these business owners would be excluded from the private retail market. It was said by Fedeli that the government “won’t want to do business with those running an illegal business”.

Fedeli mentioned that answers with respect to pricing of the product and clarification regarding municipalities and a potential “opt-out” would be released over the upcoming weeks.

Until private retailers are open, and beginning on October 17, 2018, Ontarians 19 years and older will be able to purchase recreational cannabis online through the Ontario Cannabis Store.  The Ontario Cannabis Store, run by the government, “will not be in the business of running physical cannabis stores.”  The online system will be equipped with a verification system that will “ensure safe at home delivery for cannabis products, thereby meeting the federally-imposed obligation that provinces are ready for retail sales for the start of legalization.” The Ontario Cannabis Store will also be responsible for wholesale in the province.

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