Province Engaging All Ontario Municipalities as Part of Safe and Sensible Approach to Legalization
Ontario continues to prepare for the federal government’s plan to legalize cannabis by July 2018 by working with municipalities to identify possible store locations.
In September, the province announced a safe and sensible framework to govern the lawful use and retail distribution of cannabis as a carefully controlled substance. This framework includes the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) overseeing retail sales through new stand-alone stores and online ordering.
Today, letters were sent to all municipalities in Ontario to share the next steps for establishing retail stores. The process will be led by the LCBO, working closely with the government and local communities.
In accordance with the province’s safe and sensible approach, two primary considerations will be used to guide the identification of municipalities where stores will be located:
- To achieve geographic distribution of stores across the province
- To reduce the number of illegal stores, including dispensaries, currently in operation
The LCBO will utilize guidelines to identify specific store locations with the objective of ensuring that youth are protected and the illegal market is addressed. This includes ensuring stores are not located in close proximity to schools.
Once a prospective store site has been identified by the LCBO, a notice will be posted online and at the location to let the public know that a space has been selected for a proposed storefront. Before any decisions are made, there will be an opportunity for the public to ask questions and provide feedback on the proposed location.
Under the proposed approach, approximately 150 standalone stores will be opened by 2020, including 40 stores by July 2018 and rising to 80 by July 2019. Online distribution will also be available to service all regions of the province. The government will evaluate how this approach is working throughout the rollout to ensure that the goals of safe, responsible sales of cannabis and elimination of the illegal market are achieved.
- On October 19, Ontario brought together provincial law enforcement, public health experts, municipal licensing officials, local police and fire representatives, First Nations, and the federal government to participate in Ontario’s Cannabis Legalization Enforcement Summit to identify issues and find solutions that will work for communities across the province.
- Ontario is proposing to set the minimum age to purchase recreational cannabis at 19 years old, the same as alcohol and tobacco. This minimum age would also apply to possession and use.
“It is critical that in establishing a new, legal retail system for cannabis we protect our youth and combat the illegal market. Municipalities are essential partners in our efforts to distribute cannabis across the province. As we move forward with retail implementation, officials from the Ministry of Finance and the LCBO will meet with municipalities that have been identified for potential sites to discuss concerns and next steps in this initiative.” — Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance
“Hearing from municipal leaders and the public is key to ensuring that the needs and interests of communities are reflected in our safe and sensible approach to cannabis legalization. Working with municipalities will ensure that decisions about potential store locations are guided by our shared goals of protecting young people and keeping communities safe.” — Yasir Naqvi, Attorney General of Ontario