5 Things to Look for as Ontario Unveils its New Marijuana Law

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5 things to look for as Ontario unveils its new marijuana law By Patrick Cain. A resident smokes a large marijuana joint during the 420 Day festival on the lawns of Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Thursday, April 20, 2017.

Ontario is set to introduce legislation Wednesday that would regulate the sale and distribution of recreational marijuana.

The province was the first to announce detailed plans last month for cannabis once the federal government makes it legal in July 2018.

Many of the workaday details of how legal marijuana will work are up to the provinces. Ontario announced some in September, but others may emerge today.

Here are five things to look for in the province’s proposed bill:

Will marketing look more like alcohol or tobacco?

Those arguing for a stricter system for selling recreational pot want an austere system of marketing and advertising it — closer to what we now have for cigarettes. But others, including marijuana producers, want recognizable brands — more of a marijuana version of what we now see in a liquor store. (Marijuana producers want to build brand loyalty.)

Implicit in that debate is a divide over to what extent marijuana use should be normalized under legalization. Is cannabis a barely tolerated vice, or a fairly benign substance that needs a few controls?

Who wins the argument will have a major influence on what the consumer experience of legal pot will be like.

Where will pot use (especially smoking) be allowed?

Under a strict version of legalization, marijuana would only be allowed behind closed doors in private. But looser rules would allow licenced establishments for marijuana, regulated more or less as licenced establishments for alcohol now are.

“That’s going to be a really big deal — the idea of whether or not it’s going to be restricted to private residences, or if they’re going to be allowing licenced establishments like vapour lounges to exist,” says Jenna Valleriani, a University of Toronto PhD student who is studying dispensaries.

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