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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:25 pm
 


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LCBO will run 150 standalone marijuana stores when weed is legalized | Toronto Star

By Robert Benzie Queen's Park Bureau Chief
2:49 PM, Fri., Sept. 8, 2017
Government-controlled outlets and website will be the only place that cannabis can lawfully be purchased in Ontario when Ottawa legalizes sales on July 1.

Premier Kathleen Wynne is cornering the recreational marijuana market by restricting sales to 150 LCBO-run stores.

The standalone cannabis outlets – physically separate from existing provincial-owned liquor stores – and a government-controlled website will be the only place weed can lawfully be sold after Ottawa legalizes it on July 1.

In a move that will close scores of illegal weed “dispensaries” that now dot Ontario cities, the LCBO will get its product from the medical marijuana producers licenced by Health Canada.

Only those 19 and older will be allowed to purchase or possess marijuana and pot consumption will be limited to private homes.

Smoking weed will continue to be illegal in any public space — including parks, workplaces and motorized vehicles.

Prices will be kept competitive to curb the black market, but the government does expect a boost in tax revenues.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa, Health Minister Eric Hoskins, and Attorney General Yasir Naqvi unveiled the plan Friday at Queen’s Park after months of work from Ontario’s cannabis secretariat.

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario, which runs the province’s 651 liquor stores — using workers who are members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union — will oversee all retail sales and run the online service.

But the branding of the government’s new pot chain will not necessarily include the LCBO’s name.

“When it comes to retail distribution, the LCBO has the expertise, the experience, and the insight to ensure careful control of cannabis, helping us to discourage illicit market activity and see that illegal dispensaries are shut down,” said Sousa, who has not yet determined how much tax revenue legalized weed will bring in.

Naqvi said the government has “heard people across Ontario are anxious about the federal legalization of cannabis.”


“The province is moving forward with a safe and sensible approach to legalization that will ensure we can keep our communities and roads safe, promote public health and harm reduction, and protect Ontario's young people,” the attorney general said.

There will be 40 LCBO weed stores in place across the province on July 1, 2018, 80 by 2019, and 150 in 2020.

“We will draw upon our decades of experience and work in partnership with the government to deliver on its objectives,” said LCBO president and CEO George Soleas, stressing the Crown corporation supports “moderate consumption.”

OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas hailed the Liberals for “a prudent plan.”

“There is no downside to today’s announcement. It’s a model that we encourage other provinces to emulate,” said Thomas.

Online sales will begin next July after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government legalizes recreational marijuana.

Premier Kathleen Wynne has long said she wants the LCBO to have a role in the distribution of recreational marijuana.

Wynne has long touted the fact that the booze monopoly has staff trained to keep underage drinkers from buying alcohol and has a tightly controlled distribution channel.

The premier was an early opponent of the illegal storefront weed shops — some of which are supplied by or operated by organized crime gangs — that have popped up in cities like Toronto.

Friday’s announcement should provide police and municipalities with the clarity they have been seeking to close them down.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said he was hopeful the illegal storefronts would voluntarily cease operating without police intervention and that the province would provide the city the resources it needs for enforcement.

“My priority number one has always been safety of neighbourhoods, the safety of children and making sure that people are protected in that regard, and public health,” Tory told reporters at Hillcrest Community School during an unrelated news conference.

“Based on today’s announcement, I am generally satisfied that the government of Ontario’s approach will help keep neighbourhoods safe and address public health concerns,” he said.

“While I support the legalization of marijuana, I do not think the people of Toronto would support future widespread location of outlets for the sale of marijuana in residential neighbourhoods or in certain retailing areas.”

Jodie Emery, co-owner of Cannabis Culture, said the government should have allowed the existing storefronts to continue.

“Do not criminalize the existing industry — this is deeply disappointing,” said Emery, warning a government monopoly will not end the black market.

“This is doomed to fail,” she said.

Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner accused the Liberals of trying to change the channel from the Sudbury byelection bribery trial that began Thursday.

“This announcement at this time is a cynical ploy by the Liberals to divert attention from their ongoing legal scandals,” said Schreiner.

Progressive Conservative MPP Laurie Scott (Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock) said she is “concerned about issues of public safety, including ensuring that there are strong measures to crack down on drug-impaired driving.”

“We are calling on the Kathleen Wynne government to ensure that law enforcement, public health and local communities are properly consulted and have the tools they need as the Liberals roll-out out this proposal. Unfortunately, we don’t trust the Wynne Liberals to get this right,” she said.

The government is also looking at new road safety rules to curb impaired driving.

Other jurisdictions that have legalized weed have seen a spike in such offences, so the province will try to get in front of that with heftier penalties and new testing machines.

Currently, the only legally available marijuana is prescribed by a medical doctor and comes from 58 producers who are licensed and inspected by Health Canada.

It can only be delivered directly to patients’ doors by Canada Post or a courier.

The existing storefront “dispensaries” have nothing to do with the federal Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations.




https://www.google.ca/amp/s/www.thestar ... lized.html


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