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LCBO to oversee 150 standalone cannabis retail stores, Ontario government says


September 11, 2017   by Canadian Underwriter


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The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) will oversee approximately 150 standalone cannabis retail stores, the provincial government said on Friday as part of its “safe and sensible framework” to manage the Government of Canada’s plan to legalize cannabis by July 2018.

Yasir Naqvi, Attorney General of Ontario, Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance and Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, said in a press release from the Ministry of the Attorney General of Ontario that legislation will be introduced later this fall, following the conclusion of provincewide consultations.

“Ontario’s approach to the legalization of cannabis will be informed by the province’s experience in managing tobacco and alcohol, as well as practical lessons of other jurisdictions that have recently legalized cannabis,” the release said, adding that the province is “committing to a safe and sensible framework to govern the lawful use and retail of recreational cannabis as a carefully controlled substance within the province.”

Related: Canadian insurance industry needs clear direction and proper framework to address marijuana legalization, industry event hears

Key elements of the framework include:

  • The proposed minimum age to use, purchase and possess recreational cannabis in Ontario will be 19. The use of recreational cannabis will be allowed in “private residences” and prohibited in public places, workplaces or when inside a motor vehicle;
  • The LCBO will oversee the legal retail of cannabis in Ontario through new standalone cannabis stores and an online order service. This approach will ensure that there will be only one legal retail distributor for cannabis in Ontario and alcohol and cannabis are not sold alongside each other;
  • Approximately 150 standalone stores will be opened by 2020, including 80 by July 1, 2019, servicing all regions of the province. Online distribution will be available across the province from July 2018 onward and the “same delivery safeguards that exist now for online alcohol sales would apply,” including ID checks, signatures upon delivery and no packages left unattended at the door;
  • Illicit cannabis dispensaries “are not and will not be” legal retailers. The province will pursue a coordinated enforcement strategy, working with municipalities, local police services, the Ontario Provincial Police and the federal government to help shut down these illegal operations; and
  • 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.”

The release added that the province will develop an “integrated prevention and harm reduction approach that would promote awareness of cannabis-related health harms and help people make informed decisions about use.” The approach will also include education, health and social service providers that work with, and educate, youth and young adults.

Related: With marijuana legalization impending, now is not the time to lower the legal alcohol limit, CAA-Quebec argues

Decisions with respect to pricing and taxation will be made after further details are provided by the federal government, the ministry reported, adding that “final decisions will be informed by focusing on the objectives of discouraging consumption and eliminating the illegal market.”

In the lead up to federal legalization, to help ensure public awareness of this transition and the new measures that will take effect, the government will also undertake a public information campaign in coordination with the federal government.

Ontario also intends to consult closely with municipalities, Indigenous communities and stakeholders to determine additional details about the retail and distribution system.

Related: Opposition MPs concerned about lack of a ‘ready, usable, reliable roadside screening device’ for marijuana impairment

“We are committed to getting this transition right,” Sousa said in the release. “When it comes to retail distribution, the LCBO has the expertise, experience and insight to ensure careful control of cannabis, helping us to discourage illicit market activity and see that illegal dispensaries are shut down.”

Naqvi added that “we’ve heard people across Ontario are anxious about the federal legalization of cannabis. The province is moving forward with a safe and sensible approach to legalization that will ensure we can keep our communities and roads safe, promote public health and harm reduction, and protect Ontario’s young people.”

The ministry reported that the government recently made changes allowing police to immediately remove drivers from the road who they believe are impaired by drugs, including cannabis. A 2015 report by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health suggested that 45% of Ontario adults have used cannabis at least once in their lifetime, and about 15% used it in the past year.


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5 Comments » for LCBO to oversee 150 standalone cannabis retail stores, Ontario government says
  1. James Tripp says:

    The replacement of an existing, functional, prosperous, and completely viable, dispensary market with an overpriced, overburdened, and monopolistic, government owned corporation is patently INSANE.

    Our government is being misinformed by organizations that are pervaded by negative bias against all forms of cannabis use and as a result, our legislation we will be full of flaws based on gross misconceptions regarding how cannabis affects individual human physiology.

    Current legislation seems more fixated on the potential profits generated by the emerging recreational Cannabis industry rather than the many medical benefits that cannabinoid therapy could provide to a large segment of the Canadian population.

    Please research phytocannabinoids, the endocannabinoid system, and look up patent 6630507, just for starters, before making any assumptions about Cannabis Use and general health and DO NOT let unfounded fear and negative bias block access to the many medical benefits of Cannabinoid Therapy.

    https://youtu.be/Z2QdezPoupM

  2. Jenny Markdale says:

    Today many of the dispensaries are run by organized crime. Including some of the prominent “chains.” How else would you propose a safe, cost effective system be put in place that does not further benefit the very groups that legalization is supposed to be putting out of business? Continuing to support these organizations would be akin to supporting bootleggers as valid and legal distribution after prohibition. Sure, there are some mom and pop shops, but to most this is just one more criminal money making endeavour in their crime empires.

    • James Tripp says:

      Your assumption that the dispensaries get their supply from ‘Organized Drug gangs is just proof that the ‘Wild West Dispensary’ propaganda put forth by the LP lobby is working as it is intended.

      If you understood the reality of the underground market as it truly exists you would know that most of the true ‘Organized Crime Gangs’ are already getting out of cannabis and the real underground market is supplied by quality craft growers who have been producing medicinal quality cannabis medicine for decades because our government, medical industry and law enforcement have all ignored the positives of Cannabis use and are fixated on negative bias..

      Explain to me how replacing the existing viable, functional, and beneficial free market with a government run monopoly supplied by the LP cartel, is a good idea?

  3. Rafik Z says:

    One step forward, a million steps back.

  4. Judes says:

    Upon just reading the first comment made by ‘Jenny’ I’m stunned by your naïveté with the organized crime comment. I have my medical licence and I have purchased from a few dispensaries in Ontario – not withstanding they were not owned and operated by Hells Angels or Black Mafia – regular NORMAL people operate these places (I speak solely of the ones I speak about which are 4 in total). You are living in some dark age Neanderthal based story – granted the money is bountiful when it comes to the sale of weed there’s no doubt when the line ups never shorten, the cars are non stop to the point of pothole laden lots and the weed is superb – it’s medical grade hands down (no itchy barn bunk have I purchased from one) so before u assume you have all your facts I suggest you step out of your fairytale and visit a dispensary before you pass ignorant judgement

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