Marijuana legalization is fast approaching
Ontario has announced the province’s plan for the distribution of marijuana, ahead of legalization planned for next spring. Recreational cannabis will be sold through a chain of specialty stores operated by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). The plan is to open 150 marijuana stores by the year 2020 and 40 stores by next summer. According to Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MPP Grant Crack, it has not yet been determined as to where these stores will be located across the province and what that would mean for the Prescott-Russell region.
The LCBO will be in charge of these specialty stores, and will also offer online purchasing of marijuana. The sale price of the products has not yet been determined by the province and will be discussed at further consultations between the federal and provincial governments this fall. Cannabis use will be prohibited in all public places and will only be acceptable in private residences. This puts a halt on all entrepreneurial ideas for restaurants or vapor bars and lounges.
“What I could say on that is that we have full intentions to continue to manage this file through subsidiaries of the LCBO,” said Crack. “There’s been no discussion at this time that I am aware of about broadening this into other retail outlets.”
The federal government also announced $161 million to the country’s police forces, with $ 81 million allocated to the provincial forces. This money is to cover the additional costs of supplying drug testing devices, training all police officers to recognize drug users, as well as the symptoms of impaired driving.
Several representatives of Canadian police organizations have expressed their concerns that they will not be ready to carry out these laws for next summer. The Deputy Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police and the Provincial Commanding Officer of the Investigations and Organized Crime Command, Rick Barnum, publicly stated that if the government does not postpone the date of legalization and does not allow the police to properly prepare and train their officers, there will be a period of six months to a year that will allow for mistakes and an increase in organized crime.
“We have come up with a plan in a responsible manner to start off with 40 stores. We are not going into this full force right at the start,” said Crack. “We’re saying ‘Let’s try it here, let’s open these outlets first’, and provide the resources we feel are necessary to the different stakeholders, including the police, that are involved and let’s see how those 40 evolve, and then 90 six months later, and only then 150 by 2020.” Representatives from the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Saskatoon Police Service all expressed that they also want the federal government to reconsider allowing residents to grow their own marijuana plants, because it will be too difficult to control and can facilitate minors in getting their hands on marijuana.
Crack also expressed uncertainty about the amount of marijuana stores that will be opened – 150 stores by 2020 – and if that will be enough to satisfy the needs of the pro- vince. “Especially in rural Ontario, because rural Ontarians deserve the same access, not only to cannabis but also to alcohol in my opinion, that people in urban areas enjoy,” he said. The provincial government has not yet bogged down all the specifics of this marijuana distribution plan and the impact it will have on the Prescott-Russell area is still to largely be determined.
L’Ontario vient d’annoncer le plan de la province pour la distribution de la marijuana, en vue de la légalisation l’an prochain. Le cannabis récréatif sera vendu dans une chaine de boutiques spécialisées gérées par la société des alcools de l’Ontario. La province envisage d’avoir 150 magasins de marijuana dès l’année 2020, et 40 magasins l’été prochain. Selon le député de Glengarry-PrescottRussell, Grant Crack, on n’a toujours pas déterminé où seront situés ces magasins.