Uncertainty Reigns as Ontario Moves to Private Pot Retail

Article by Christina Pellegrini and Laura Stone, Globe and Mail

Uncertainty reigns as Ontario moves to private pot retail CHRISTINA PELLEGRINI LAURA STONE Municipalities say they haven’t been consulted about the Ford government's new plan. CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS

The cannabis industry welcomed Ontario’s plan to privatize in-store sales of recreational cannabis, but starting fresh raises new complications over how the model will be rolled out in cities and towns across Canada’s largest province.
Many marijuana companies say the move will lead to more stores, better choices and an improved experience for consumers, while cannabis activists who have been advocating for better access and a chance to be legal sellers claimed victory. But Ontario and its municipalities will have limited time to decide how retailers obtain licences and permits, where stores can be located and how operators will be vetted, with less than three months to go before recreational cannabis becomes legal on Oct. 17.
The group representing the province’s municipalities, however, says it hasn’t even been consulted on the new plan.
“We certainly have a concern that Oct. 17 is coming very quickly and municipal governments up to now thought that the issue surrounding business licensing and zoning bylaws was going to be dealt with provincially,” said Lynn Dollin, president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO). “I’m not saying that we can’t do it. I’m just saying that the timeline is very tight.”
Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government is expected to announce as early as next week 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. A senior government source told The Globe and Mail the province will still control the wholesale and distribution of the product to the stores and manage online sales.

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