Saskatchewan public asked for feedback as province ponders recreational pot plan

Randolph Lopez
September 10, 2017

Ontario becomes the first province in canada to publicly announce a plan for the regulation of cannabis legalized by the federal government.

And the government made it clear that the as-yet-unnamed state-controlled retailer spells the end of the proliferating number of illegal pot dispensaries that have alarmed Toronto Mayor John Tory and sparked police crackdowns.

Online sales, officials say, would involve ID checks and signatures at the customer's door. Under the Ontario plan, all private dispensaries will be shut down and smoking pot will be forbidden in all public areas. The Department of Justice is taking the lead on the marijuana file and says the health of children and youth is the top priority and is looking at various distribution models and its taxation plans. In B.C., where the City of Vancouver has already moved to regulate the stores instead of shutting them down, "there seems to have nearly been an acceptance that dispensaries are part of our future", she said.

"If you operate one of these dispensaries, consider yourself on notice", he said.

Sousa said Ontario will fight illegal pot shops partly by placing government-run stores close to existing dispensaries to steer traffic away from them.

"This is doomed to fail".

"One of the government's stated goals in cannabis legalization is to eliminate the underground economy, but shutting out the private sector will only allow the illicit trade to flourish".

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Consumption of legal weed will not be allowed in public spaces or workplaces and should be confined to private residences, Naqvi said.

The government also promises new measures to address drug-impaired driving in the coming weeks. They would have a "behind-the-counter" system, similar to how tobacco is sold now, to ensure age restrictions are enforced. Packages of pot would not be left unattended.

The announcement is not a surprise as Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has mused for months about how the provinces liquor board or equivalent could be used to distribute cannabis, Beacon Securities analyst Vahan Ajamian said Friday in a note.

According to the official press release, one of the stated aims of Ontario's proposal is to squeeze out criminals from the black market, now run by organizations such as the Hell's Angels and the Italian Mafia as well as various aboriginal and immigrant street gangs.

That could mean policing illegal shops will remain a problem, he said.

The province will continue to engage with municipal and policing partners, stakeholders and community partners, including Indigenous and First Nations partners to ensure we are giving police the tools they need to prioritize the protection of public health and safety, including road safety.

"That's important because whatever we don't produce, will be available to the black market", said Linton.

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