Article by Jameson Berkow, BNN Bloomberg
If Doug Ford wants the free market to play a role in selling cannabis to the people of Canada’s largest province, Ontario’s premier could take a cue from the country’s smallest territory.
“As an interim measure, the Yukon Liquor Corporation (YLC) is opening a temporary physical retail store that will be phased out once private retailers are established post cannabis legalization,” the Whitehorse-based YLC’s Scott Westerlaken explained to BNN Bloomberg via email.
Under plans put in place by the previous Liberal government, Ontario will maintain a government monopoly over cannabis retail similar to how the Liquor Control Board of Ontario has long been the province’s sole alcohol retailer. The LCBO expects to have 40 Ontario Cannabis Store locations stocked and staffed across the province by the end of this year, with that number eventually growing to 150 by 2020.
Ford could follow in Yukon’s footsteps by ordering the LCBO to make those first 40 OCS locations temporary until Ontario can license private cannabis retailers – as other provinces such as Newfoundland and Alberta have done – but he would have to act fast.
“If they are planning on following the Yukon model they would have to make that clear very soon,” Rosalie Wyonch, a policy analyst at the C.D. Howe Institute specializing in cannabis-related research, told BNN Bloomberg in a telephone interview. “The LCBO is now leasing properties to set up these Ontario Cannabis Stores and they have been working under the mandate that these locations will be permanent.”