Retail Sales Of Marijuana In Ontario Delayed Until April 2019

The Government of Ontario has announced that retail sales of marijuana in the province will be delayed until April 2019, and that people will have to purchase the recreational drug online until next spring.

Marijuana will officially be legal in Canada this October. But the Ontario government says it is delaying sales of the drug in bricks and mortar stores until next April to give retailers more time to prepare. Between October and April, Ontarians will be able to buy marijuana online and the
provincial government will manage those online sales.

Ontario Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney laid out the government's plan for a hybrid marijuana sales system in an announcement made Monday afternoon at Queen's Park, stressing their priorities would be ensuring public safety and
eliminating the black market for cannabis and related products.

"The government of Ontario will not be in the business of running physical cannabis stores," said Minister Fedeli. "Instead we will work with private-sector businesses to build a safe, reliable retail system that will divert sales away from the illegal market."

Beginning on October 17, the Ontario government will introduce a system for online sales through the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) to meet the federal government's requirements that provinces be ready for retail sales by that date. The province will then launch a consultation
process with the aim of introducing a private retail model by April 1, 2019.

The proposal scraps a previous plan for a provincial monopoly on cannabis sales that would have seen the government operate 150 brick-and-mortar stores by 2020. Under the new plan, the Ontario Cannabis Store will not operate any storefronts, but will provide an online channel
that will include an age-verification system to ensure safe home delivery of cannabis products.

The OCS will also act as a wholesale supplier for private retailers. Minister Fedeli said the government will propose creating an official Ontario Cannabis Retail Seal which will help consumers identify stores where federally qualified cannabis products can be found.

"Consumers can look to this seal to confirm they are buying from a legal channel," said Fedeli. "This is an assurance that the illegal market simply cannot match."

The full regulatory framework for the private sector model will be designed in consultation with stakeholders, including municipal governments, Indigenous communities, law enforcement, public health advocates, business and consumer groups.

The key elements of the Ontario act will set the legal age for the purchase of cannabis at 19, ban the use of recreational cannabis in all public places and workplaces and prohibit those under the age of 19 from possessing consuming or cultivating the drug.