The Ontario government has sent letters to municipalities on Friday, as the province begins to take steps towards identifying store locations for legal cannabis.
As Canada nears its weed legalization date of July 2018, Ontario has been preparing a framework to govern the use and retail distribution of what will now be a controlled substance. Last month, the province announce that the framework includes the LCBO overseeing retail sales of weed through new stand-alone stores and online.
In its letters today, the province said that it will work with local communities and there will be two primary considerations to identify store locations within municipalities. One is to achieve geographic distribution of stores across the province, and the other is to reduce the number of illegal stores, including dispensaries, currently in operation.
“It is critical that in establishing a new, legal retail system for cannabis we protect our youth and combat the illegal market,” said Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance, in a statement. “Municipalities are essential partners in our efforts to distribute cannabis across the province.”
Among the guidelines, the LCBO will ensure that stores aren’t located in close proximity to schools.
As for the process, 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, according to the province. There will also 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.