The federal government has introduced legislation to legalize recreational cannabis by October 17th, 2018, but left it up to the provinces and territories to oversee distribution and sales.
Starting Oct. 17, the province will introduce a system for online sales through the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) to meet the federal government’s requirements that provinces be ready for retail sales by that date. The government will then launch a consultation process with the aim of introducing a private retail model by Apr. 1.
- The proposed minimum age to use, purchase and possess recreational cannabis in Ontario will be 19. The use of recreational cannabis will be prohibited in public places and workplaces.
- Illicit cannabis dispensaries are not and will not be legal retailers. The province will pursue a coordinated and proactive enforcement strategy, working with municipalities, local police services, the OPP and the federal government to help shut down these illegal operations.
- Ontario will prohibit individuals under the age of 19 from possessing or consuming recreational cannabis, which will allow police to confiscate small amounts of cannabis from young people. The province’s approach to protecting youth will focus on prevention, diversion, and harm reduction without unnecessarily bringing them into contact with the justice system.
Under the new plan, the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) will not operate any storefronts, but will provide an online channel that will include an age-verification system to ensure safe home delivery of cannabis products. The OCS will also act as a wholesale supplier for private retailers.
The full regulatory framework for the private sector model will be designed in consultation with stakeholders, including municipal governments, Indigenous communities, law enforcement, public health advocates, business and consumer groups.
Finance Minister Charles Sousa estimates that Ontario will collect 40 per cent of the provinces’ share of tax revenue. That would mean about $120 million, based on forecasts announced in Ottawa in December 2017.