Ontario is the first province or territory to lay out its plans for how cannabis will be sold and regulated in response to federal legislation that will legalize recreational use by July 2018.
The Ontario government is the first province or territory out of the chute to release a plan on September 8 to regulate cannabis, expected to be legalized by Ottawa next July.
"Today's announcement is what we have been calling for since the legalization debate began", said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE).
Officials say the new retailer will likely be a subsidiary of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, but kept completely separate from the LCBO's chain of booze retail outlets. They can also weigh in on where people should be able to grow marijuana plants and how much cannabis they should be permitted to buy at once. Ontario will also work to support the federal government's planned national public awareness campaign to promote prevention and harm reduction.
Only those 19 years of age and older will be allowed to purchase or possess it. It's open to any Saskatchewan resident over the age of 18, and is set to run until October 6. "One of the government's stated goals in cannabis legalization is to eliminate the underground economy, but shutting out the private sector will only allow the illicit trade to flourish". "It's a model that we encourage other provinces to emulate".
The news that governments plan to close marijuana dispensaries doesn't come as a shock to some activists. She said the strategy was doomed to fail.
"Legalization was supposed to be the end of criminalization, the end of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on law enforcement and courts", said Ms. Emery, who faces charges after police raided Cannabis Culture locations in Toronto earlier this year.
"We are committed to getting this transition right". He said that the government has not yet made a decision on whether cannabis will be available in liquor stores. "It's dependent upon the price point and the tax systems as yet to be established", he said. They would have a "behind-the-counter" system, similar to how tobacco is sold now, to ensure age restrictions are enforced.
The plan means the LCBO will oversee the legal retailing of cannabis across the province through the new stand-alone stores and an online ordering service - meaning cannabis and alcohol will not be sold alongside each other.
Those sales will require ID checks, signatures on delivery, and no packages will be left unattended at the door.
"We are running out of time", he said. Legislation around this remains to be drafted.