Ever since the Progressive Conservatives took over power in the most popular province in Canada, they’ve been plotting how to change the cannabis rules set in place by the prior (Liberal) government led by Kathleen Wynne.
Yesterday, their officials finally announced the plan and program for Ontario’s cannabis legalization which will be introduced today.
“We will work decisively to undermine organized crime and the illicit cannabis market,” Attorney General Mulroney said. “Potential cannabis store operators would be required to apply for both a retail operator licence in addition to a retail store authorization for each location they want to operate.”
The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) will act as the exclusive wholesaler and distributor for Ontario, which is one of the rare parts of the rules that both the Liberals and Progressives agreed upon.
Cannabis laws in Ontario are set
The province announced the plan to regulate recreational cannabis in Ontario on their website.
Here is a breakdown of the most important parts of the cannabis laws in Ontario:
- Minimum age: 19 years;
- You will be able to grow up to four plants per residence;
- You will be able to possess up to 30 grams;
- Smoking in motorized vehicles will not be allowed;
- Driving under the influence of cannabis will not be allowed;
- Using cannabis in public can lead to a fine;
- Zero tolerance for young, novice and commercial drivers.
The plan which the PC government will introduce will heavily rely on traditional retail locations, and we may see hundreds of brick and mortar stores opening up after January.
Municipalities will until January 22nd to decide if they want to opt-out of having retail cannabis locations on their turf.
On the other hand, sales will start on October 17th, as that is the date when you will also be able to buy cannabis on websites which will ship the product to your door.
Cannabis consumption laws in Ontario will be the same as those for tobacco, meaning that the Smoke-Free Ontario Act will apply for both tobacco and cannabis equally.
Basically, if you aren’t allowed to smoke a cigarette on the spot you are looking to smoke cannabis at, then you aren’t allowed to light up weed at that spot either.
This essentially means that there will be no place for weed in public places such as bars, cafes, restaurants and clubs, but just about any place outside is fair game.
There were worries that the community would complain, especially people living in cities that don’t want to be exposed to the pungent smell of cannabis.
As a matter of fact, there were even talks that landlords will be able to expel their renters for smoking cannabis.
Luckily, the PC party made it clear that people have the right to do whatever they want to as long as they are paying for it.
Ontario residents have spent well over $2 billion CAD on cannabis flower and other related products in 2017, according to Statistics Canada.
This makes Ontario the biggest cannabis market in Canada, after which Alberta and British Columbia come in tight second and third place.
There are only 20 days left until legal cannabis sales start, and Ontario seems to be underprepared for the whole legalization event.
This is in part due to the change in power which was somewhat expected, as signs of the change were very visible even during the election race.
However, the change in power doesn’t mean that the system will be less efficient than it would have been in the Liberal’s hands.
In fact, since there won’t be any caps of the number of stores which can open this would suggest that there’s going to be a healthy, competitive atmosphere.
“No cap is a win for consumers,” Jeremy Potvin, co-founder of Weedbox said. “For retailers, there’s going to be kind of a street fight.”
This is also confirmed by the fact that licensed producers such as Aurora Cannabis, Canopy Growth and Tilray will only be allowed to run one location each.
Finance Minister Vic Fedeli says that this move will limit their share of the market and open up the marketplace.
“This is an opportunity for small business to get involved. We want to have as many participants as possible be involved,” said Minister Fedeli.
Ontario will also allow for sales at the production sites, something only Newfoundland and Labrador allowed aside from Ontario.
This will significantly increase the number of locations in which you can buy cannabis since Ontario has 63 of the 118 production licenses issued by Health Canada.
Many assumed that Ontario’s PC government will announce a plan similar to the one being implemented in Alberta.
Officials in Alberta announced that the province will allow for 250 retail locations to be opened in the first year, with no more than 15% of the locations belonging to a single entity.
Another thing that will be somewhat different in Alberta is that the minimum age for cannabis possession and everything cannabis related will be 18, which is also the federal limit.
Aurora Cannabis will be one of the big competitors in the Alberta market, as they have already announced their plans to open 37 retail locations.