The liberal government tabled legislation to legalize marijuana by July 2018, and though it’s been slightly delayed, it’s still happening soon. Many people are wondering where they’ll be able to buy recreational marijuana once it’s legalized.
The provinces and territories have begun implementing strategies and business models, but it can be confusing to separate what exactly this means for consumers across the country. Here’s a brief outline of where you’ll be able to buy marijuana, both in Ontario and the rest of Canada.
The LCBO Monopoly
Ontario residents can expect to purchase legal marijuana through new LCBO-affiliated outlets. The Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation, OCRC, a subsidiary of the Crown-regulated alcohol distributor, will be opening its first forty stores this year, with another 80 planned for July 1, 2019, and a total of 150 operating by 2020.
In similar fashion to the LCBO, the OCRC stores will be stand-alone, solely selling legalized cannabis. Exact locations have yet to be announced, but the provinces’ big cities, including Windsor, Barrie, Sudbury, Kingston, and Toronto, are just a few pinpoints already on the map.
The OCRC will also have online services available for purchase, delivering your weed safely and securely through the mail. You will still be able to purchase medical marijuana from licensed producers. The age to purchase is in line with the province’s drinking laws: You’ll have to be at least 19 years old. In addition to the provincial rules, the stores will have to abide by any federal regulations currently in place as well.
What about Private Retailers?
Those hoping to shop at their neighbourhood dispensaries are out of luck. Ontario’s cannabis legislation does not include private retailers, meaning current businesses that sell marijuana will remain illegal. Dispensaries selling these products will remain subject to the same fines and penalties they are currently facing.
The province is closing doors to private retailers by limiting buyers’ purchases solely to Crown-regulated corporations. The idea is that buying legal marijuana in Ontario will mimic buying alcohol by ensuring all products are sold and purchased under one regulated roof. Ontario isn’t the only province lining up its cannabis policies with its liquor regulations: Other provinces are viewing legalization through a similar lens.
Legalization across the Country
Trudeau’s federal government is making marijuana legal, but it’s leaving the issues of supply, distribution, and regulation up to the individual provinces and territories. Each part of Canada seems to have its own ideas about how to regulate the sale and distribution of this soon-to-be legal substance. Quebec, for example, will match its legal drinking age to the legal age to buy marijuana, which is set at 18 years old. Unlike Ontario, it won’t allow homeowners to grow plants.
Private retailers in Ontario may be banned from selling the product, but the majority of western Canada is allowing it, incorporating sale from a mix of private and public retailers in their legislation regarding recreational marijuana. British Columbia will allow private retailers to sell it; however, the supply has to come from the government wholesale distribution system. This is similar to how alcohol is currently distributed throughout the province.
The east coast will also allow a mix of private and public retailers. Nova Scotia has opted to take the government-regulated-only route, like Ontario, but Newfoundland’s laws will include private sale, with Crown-owned liquor corporations overseeing distribution to those private businesses. New Brunswick will require its users to lock marijuana away when it’s in the home. The territories are still exploring the majority of the facets surrounding legal recreational marijuana.
There are problems surrounding the legalization of cannabis, yet they seem to be dissipating. As the legalization deadline draws nearer, the provinces and territories will need to be fully prepared to distribute and sell this product. To ensure you’re buying from a legal retailer, check with your province’s legislation and regulations.