After Canada announced that marijuana would be legalized in the fall of 2018, our next question was where would they be able to buy and when? Ontario's previously announced their cannabis store plan prior to Doug Ford's premier take over and now the plan has completely changed.
Ford has scraped the Liberal's plan of LCBO style stores and now has delayed brick and mortar stores until April of 2019, opting instead to have recreational cannabis sales strictly only online come October 17.
The Attorney General, Caroline Mulroney, and the Minister of Finance, Vic Fedeli, made the announcement on Monday afternoon to share the Conservative government's approach to cannabis sales.
Those who are 19 years or older are those legally allowed to purchase cannabis in Ontario. Retailers who are caught selling illegally will be shut down and will not be allowed to operate after a single offence.
Another major change in Ford's conservative plan is that private retailers will be able to operate throughout the legalization but will need to be supplied via Ontario Cannabis Stores. This will make the provincial stores more of a wholesaler who can licence who purchases their supply.
The reason this method was chosen was to help shoppers see who is operating with the government suppliers, versus what the government has called an illegal market. That means dispensaries currently operating across the province are illegal.
Ontario will have an “Official Ontario Cannabis Retailer” seal for legitimate private stores.— Colin D'Mello CTV (@ColinDMello) August 13, 2018
The gov’t is promising escalating fines uptop $250,000 and jail time for any illegal dispensaries. #ONpoli pic.twitter.com/FVBAp4ZfGV
Those operating illegal dispensaries can be charged with jail time and fines above $250,000.
Another major announcement that came with this was that municipalities will be able to opt out of retailers in their city. That means if your hometown doesn't want a cannabis store, the city council can decide in favour of a ban.
Ontarians are not happy with the government's move, especially with the previous Liberal plan already being put into motion. Now people are going to be left high and dry on October 17, to await their legal marijuana package.
So much for being able to go into a store on October 17 and buy cannabis. Doug Ford (aka @fordnation) screws up a perfectly good program once again for no other reason that it was put in place by the Liberals.https://t.co/hEVTJS1VF0— Stephen Best (@BestStephen) August 13, 2018
Online only cannabis sales until April 1? This govt is clueless. The black market is laughing. There was nothing wrong with the LCBO-model. Childish to switch it only because the Liberals formed it. #onpoli @C_Mulroney @fordnation @OntarioPCParty— Hyper_Canadian (@Hyper_Canadian) August 13, 2018
@fordnation @C_Mulroney what the heck are you doing with cannabis!? we won't be able to buy from a store until 2019!?! are you kidding me!? we had a fine system ready to go. stop ruining EVERYTHING in this province! #incompetent #onpoli— K B (@chongablackwell) August 13, 2018
Residents will also have to verify their age when ordering online by signing for their package. Ontarians can also choose to grow their own with up to four plants in one residential dwelling and not four plants per person.
While this news is surprising to some, Ford had said on the campaign trail that he supported private retailers operating for marijuana sales. The new rules for Ontario's cannabis stores mean that the government will have more control over who sells the official government supply.