The Ontario government has announced how it will be selling cannabis in the province.
On Monday, Doug Ford’s government said that following the federal legalization of cannabis on October 17, “Ontario will immediately introduce an online retail channel for cannabis, to be followed by a private retail model by April 1, 2019.”
Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney shared the details of the plan, which is targeted to “protect consumers.”
“Throughout this process we have held fast to some non-negotiable principles: Public safety is paramount,” said Fedeli. “We will make sure our youth are safe; our roads are safe and that we work with our municipalities to ensure our neighbourhoods are safe.”
Starting on October 17, consumers 19 and older will be able to purchase cannabis via an online retail platform provided by the Ontario Cannabis Store.
The OCS online channel will include a verification system that will ensure safe at home delivery for cannabis products, thereby meeting the federally imposed obligation that provinces be ready for retail sales for the start of legalization.
The province also said it would immediately begin consultations in advance of opening up “a tightly regulated private retail model for cannabis that will launch by April 1.”
“The Government of Ontario will not be in the business of running physical cannabis stores,” said Fedeli. “Instead, we will work with private sector businesses to build a safe, reliable retail system that will divert sales away from the illegal market.”
Private retailers will have to follow a series of provincial rules, such as prohibiting the sale of cannabis to anyone under the age of 19, according to the province.
The Ministers also announced a zero-tolerance policy, including severely escalating fines, for any retailer or dispensary who continues to operate in the illicit markets.
On October 17, 2018, Ontario will also enact new measures that include new road safety laws with serious penalties. The penalties will increase consequences and costs for those who drive under the influence of cannabis and other drugs.
The Ontario government is also proposing to introduce an “Official Ontario Cannabis Retailer Seal” that will help consumers identify legitimate retailers where federally quality assured products can be found.
The province said it will provide $40 million to municipalities over two years to help local governments keep their communities safe.
“In order to protect our communities — we have to work closely with our municipalities. In fact, they are our essential partners,” said Fedeli. “We are committed to creating a safe retail model that eliminates the illegal cannabis market in Ontario. We are taking a balanced and responsible approach to building a system that works.”