Ontario Government Will Turn to Private Retailers to Sell Cannabis

Article by Laura Stone and Christina Pellegrini, Globe and Mail

Ontario government will turn to private retailers to sell marijuana LAURA STONE PARLIAMENTARY REPORTER CHRISTINA PELLEGRINI OTTAWA AND TORONTO Doug Ford addresses the public after being sworn in as the 26th premier of Ontario at Queen's Park in Toronto on Friday, June 29, 2018. TIJANA MARTIN/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Ontario government is turning to private retailers to sell marijuana in stores come October, shifting policy dramatically less than three months before Canada legalizes recreational use.
Provincial Finance Minister Vic Fedeli and Attorney-General Caroline Mulroney are expected to make an announcement as early as next week outlining in broad strokes the province’s plan to scrap the existing public retail model and allow the private sector to own and operate bricks-and-mortar cannabis shops, according to a senior source in the Ontario government who would only speak on condition of not being named. The person added that the government will still control the wholesale and distribution of the product to the stores and manage online sales.
The move marks a seismic change in how Ontarians will shop for legal recreational cannabis come Oct. 17. It also opens the door for the companies and entrepreneurs that end up being awarded retail licences to profit from the green rush that has already been so lucrative for many investors and licensed producers.
The province’s previous Liberal government had planned to give the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) a monopoly on the sale of recreational cannabis, with 40 physical stores set to open this year under a subsidiary of the LCBO called the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS). Now, the Ontario system is expected to mirror the Alberta model, which will allow for privately run cannabis stores to sell marijuana with licences granted by the liquor commission.
It isn’t known yet how many retail store licences will be granted under Ontario’s new model. The government is still working out the details of how retail outlets will be able to operate, the source said. Online sales will be handled by the Ontario Cannabis Store.
The government will also begin consultations with municipalities, law-enforcement agencies and Indigenous groups over the next two months on how privatization will roll out.

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