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Ontario Preparing for Federal Cannabis Legalization 

Ontario has introduced legislation that would, if passed, safely regulate the use and distribution of recreational cannabis when it is legalized by the federal government in July 2018.

Ontario’s proposed Cannabis Act, 2017 would support the province’s safe and sensible transition to the federal legalization of cannabis.

The proposed legislation would:

  • Create a new provincial retailer, overseen by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), to ensure safe and socially responsible distribution of recreational cannabis through stand-alone stores and an online order service. Under the proposed approach, approximately 150 standalone stores will be opened by 2020, including 40 stores by July 2018 and rising to 80 by July 2019. Online distribution will also be available to service all regions of the province.
  • Protect youth by setting a minimum age of 19 to use, buy, possess and cultivate cannabis in Ontario.
  • Focus on harm reduction by allowing for the diversion of people under the age of 19 from the justice system into programs focused on education and prevention, avoiding unnecessary contact with the justice system.
  • Ban the use of cannabis in public places, workplaces and motor vehicles, similar to alcohol.
  • Regulate the smoking and vaping of medical cannabis under the proposed new Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017.
  • Help eliminate the illicit market including illegal storefront dispensaries, by introducing new provincial offences with strict, escalating penalties.
  • Keep Ontario roads safe by establishing even tougher drug-impaired driving laws, including a zero-tolerance approach for young, novice and commercial drivers.

Other details of Ontario’s approach would be set by regulation after passage of the legislation, and following consultation with municipalities, Indigenous communities, and other stakeholders.

The province will continue moving forward with its plans to support youth, young adults and other vulnerable populations through an integrated prevention and harm reduction approach. Ontario is also planning a public information campaign, coordinated with the federal government, to raise awareness of this transition and the new measures that will take effect.

“Our government has announced a safe and sensible transition to the federal legalization of cannabis. With this bill, we are taking an important step towards implementing an approach that will help eliminate the illegal market, protect young people and keep impaired drivers off the road.” – Yasir Naqvi, Attorney General of Ontario

“Our proposed legislation demonstrates to the people of Ontario that we are implementing a controlled and socially responsible recreational cannabis framework. We are focused on getting our plan right, in a way that makes sense for consumers, families and municipalities across the province.” – Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance

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