Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government has finally confirmed that it will be privatizing the sale of cannabis in the province.
Bricks-and-mortar cannabis retailers in Ontario will be privately owned, but will not be operational until April 1, 2019. Residents who wish to purchase recreational cannabis after the Oct. 17 legalization date will only be able to do so online.
The new system cancels the plan established by the previous Liberal government for the sale of recreational cannabis in the province, which was to be handled exclusively by a government-owned retailer, called the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS), that was meant to be similar to (and a subsidiary of) the LCBO. The plan was to have 80 stores open by the end of 2018 and 150 operating by 2020. Instead of being the sole retailer in the province, the OCS will now act as the wholesaler of cannabis to approved stores, as well as handling online sales to consumers.
The government did not provide further details about the plan to roll out private stores, such as what kind of process would be needed to obtain a license or how many stores it hoped to have open by April 1. It is also unclear whether private retailers will be able to sell products online after April 1, if cannabis will be permitted to be sold in the same locations as other products and what kind of zoning rules will dictate where stores can be located. The government will begin consultations on the privatized model next week.
Josh Kolm – Strategy Magazine – August 14, 2018.