Ontario government to introduce legislation today regulating recreational pot

Ford government paves way for smoking pot in public

Ford government paves way for smoking pot in public

The government will also not put a cap on pot shops when it starts licensing and regulating the province's private cannabis retail marketplace, and municipalities will have until January to opt out of hosting the stores.

The Conservatives overturned stricter laws placed by the Liberals, where recreational cannabis smoking was only allowed in private Ontario residences. The legislation further allows cannabis to be smoked by those over 19 wherever the smoking of tobacco is permitted.

Mark Blinch/CANADIAN PRESS Ontario's Attorney General Caroline Mulroney speaks about new legislation for selling marijuana, in Toronto on September 26, 2018.

"I'm sure that there will be a lot of complaints about the neighbour next door, but we're aligning with the Smoke Free Ontario Act", Ms. Mulroney told reporters.

Smoking weed in vehicles (including boats) will still be prohibited, and violation of these rules can result in a fine between $1,000 and $5,000.

The legislation also proposes an overhaul to the governance structure of the Ontario Cannabis Store, which is now lined up to be the exclusive online retailer for recreational weed.

Ontario officials say they won't put a limit on the number of pot shops once recreational cannabis is legal across the country on October 17, but indicated that licensed producers would be able to have one retail location located at a production facility.

Meanwhile, there has been a "frenzy" of interest in Ontario retail real estate from those looking to set up pot shops, said Deepak Anand, vice president of business development and government relations for advisory firm Cannabis Compliance Inc.

"Those stores mean more retail points for our product. whether or not we get stores", Linton said.

The Ontario government has given an overview of legislation it will introduce on Thursday regarding adult cannabis sales in the province.

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Mark Blinch/CANADIAN PRESS Ontario's Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney speak about new legislation for selling marijuana in Toronto on September 26, 2018.

"Any engagement with organized crime, any record of providing youth (with) cannabis, any of that would bar you from participating in the private cannabis market", Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said.

The private retail store model, however will only be in place by April 2019.

The legislation allows the provincial government to set guidelines down the road for concentration of stores, but does not include a hard cap on the total number of retail outlets. Opposition critics have said they prefer a public sale model because LCBO staff have the experience and training to ensure socially responsible access.

Liberal MPP Nathalie Des Rosiers questioned why the government hasn't capped the number of stores that can open across the province in the first year.

"It certainly is a complete free market that may flood Ontario", she said.

"The government's not taking that cautious approach", he said.

Canopy Growth's co-chief executive Bruce Linton said an unlimited number of cannabis shops, whether or not they have its company branding, is still a plus because it represent a larger retail footprint than under the previous provincial government's framework.

One important difference, though, is that people will not be allowed to smoke pot in cars. "Preferably, you'd have a distinction between smoking and vaping, not that vaping is benign but it's undoubtedly better than smoking". "They should be using it in another ways".

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