Article by Dale Carruthers, London Free Press
Can Ontario have the groundwork in place for private pot dispensaries to open in the fall?
Doubtful, says one leading marijuana lawyer. But that didn’t stop a flood of calls Friday to a cannabis consulting firm from businesses looking to get into Ontario’s lucrative market.
The marijuana industry was abuzz following reports the Progressive Conservatives plan to shelve Ontario’s government monopoly for cannabis sales and bring in private-sector partners.
Industry insiders had been bracing for such a move since last month when Premier Doug Ford, looking to rein in the size of government, said he favors the private sector to handle pot sales when the drug is legalized on Oct. 17.
More details will come in the next few weeks, said a London-area cabinet minister.
“The opposition, the NDP, would like to build a mega-government for everything in our province and we see the value of the private sector. Knowing that proper regulations are in place and oversight, it will be a safe system for all Ontarians,” said Natural Resources and Forestry Minister Jeff Yurek, MPP for Elgin-Middlesex-London.
Government officials are expected to make an announcement as early as next week to outline a plan to let the private sector own and operate cannabis shops — the province would still control wholesale distribution to the stores and manage online sale — according to a report by the Globe and Mail.