Ontario Passes Cannabis Act, Will Take Effect July 1, 2018

Article by Rob Ferguson and Robert Benzie, The Toronto Star

Ontario passes Cannabis Act, will take effect July 1, 2018 Liberals and New Democrats voted in favour of the legislation Tuesday while the Progressive Conservatives opposed it. The tally was 63 MPPs for the bill and 27 against.. Marijuana will retail for $10 a gram by the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation. It will be sold from behind the counter to patrons 19 and older. (DAVID RIDER / TORONTO STAR) | ORDER THIS PHOTO


The trillium is Ontario’s official flower and marijuana could now be considered the province’s official weed with the passage of the Cannabis Act.

Liberals and New Democrats voted 63 to 27 in favour of the legislation Tuesday with the Progressive Conservatives opposed as the province now begins work in earnest on how to split pot tax revenues with municipalities.

The new law gives Queen’s Park a monopoly on recreational marijuana when the federal government’s legalization takes effect on July 1.

Weed will only be sold by the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation, a subsidiary of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.

Starting next summer, the OCRC will operate 40 stand-alone marijuana shops, increasing to 150 stores by 2020.

Illegal pot dispensaries will be forced to close.

With the federal government now pledging to give provinces and territories 75 per cent of what Sousa said is an estimated $450 million in annual pot tax revenue nationwide, Ontario will work on a share of its roughly 40 per cent portion with municipalities for enforcement.

“We have to be mindful what costs are being borne,” Finance Minister Charles Sousa told reporters, declining to specify how the tax money will be split.

“Not all municipalities are being treated the same,” Sousa added, noting some jurisdictions have their own police forces while others rely on the OPP.

Federal Liberal MP Bill Blair said last month that the tax haul from cannabis, including the HST and excise taxes, could total up to $1 billion in a legalized market with 400,000 kilograms of marijuana a year.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said the city will need funding to cover policing, social services and zoning enforcement.

“I will be looking to recover all of our costs once we calculate them,” he told reporters at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Although Sousa said the 75 per cent from the feds will not be enough to meet the costs that we are going to incur,” the deal got a joint thumbs-up from the premiers of Ontario and Quebec.

Read full article here.


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