Ontario to Adopt Private Model for Retail Cannabis including both Online Sales and Retail Stores

Published: August 14, 2018

Ontario to Adopt Private Model for Retail Cannabis including both Online Sales and Retail Stores

The Ontario government announced late Monday afternoon that it will be adopting a private model for recreational cannabis for both online sales and brick-and-mortar stores in the province. Come October 17th recreational cannabis will be available online to residents of Ontario, while recreational cannabis won’t be available through retail stores until April 1. Finance Minister Vic Fedeli and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney shared the details of the government’s plan during a news conference in Toronto Monday afternoon.

“The government of Ontario will not be in the business of running physical cannabis stores,” Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said. “Instead, we will work with private sector businesses to build a safe, reliable retail system that will divert sales away from the illegal market.”

The province will soon begin consultations on rules that retailers will have to follow, including those on hours of operation and guidelines for training staff, Fedeli and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney said. They promised a zero-tolerance policy with “severely escalating fines” for any pot retailers operating in illicit markets on the side.

The online sales will be through the Ontario Cannabis Stores website with age verification to make sure buyers are the legal age of 19, and proof of identity will be required on delivery. Products will likely be sold with an official seal “to help consumers identify legitimate retailers,” a statement said. The seal pictures the official Ontario trillium flower logo — not a marijuana leaf — below the words “Ontario Licensed.”

Municipalities will be able to reject cannabis stores within their boundaries — a move that will make pot sales a “ballot question” for many voters in local elections this fall, said interim Liberal Leader John Fraser.

Five provinces — British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Newfoundland — plan to allow private stores to sell recreational cannabis.

Officials said Ontario is looking to them for best practices this province could adopt.