Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday September 9, 2017
LCBO to run 150 marijuana stores
Premier Kathleen Wynne is cornering Ontario’s recreational marijuana market by restricting sales to 150 LCBO-run stores.
The standalone cannabis outlets, separate from provincially owned liquor stores, and a government-controlled website will be the only place weed can lawfully be sold after Ottawa legalizes it on July 1.
In a move that will close scores of illegal “dispensaries” that now dot Ontario cities, the LCBO will get its product from the medical marijuana producers licenced by Health Canada.
Only those 19 and older will be allowed to purchase or possess marijuana and pot consumption will be limited to private homes.
Smoking weed will continue to be illegal in any public space, including parks, workplaces and motorized vehicles.
Prices will be kept competitive to curb the black market.
The government expects a boost in tax revenues.
Finance Minister Charles Sousa, Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, and Health Minister Eric Hoskins unveiled the plan Friday at Queen’s Park after months of work from Ontario’s cannabis secretariat.
The Liquor Control Board of Ontario, which runs the province’s 651 liquor stores, using workers who are members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, will oversee all retail sales and run the online service.
But the branding of the government’s new pot chain will not necessarily include the LCBO’s name.
“When it comes to retail distribution, the LCBO has the expertise, the experience and the insight, to ensure careful control of cannabis, to help us discourage illicit market activity and see that illegal dispensaries are shut down,” said Sousa, who has not yet determined how much tax revenue legalized weed will bring in.
Naqvi said the government has “heard people across Ontario are anxious about the federal legalization of cannabis.
“The province is moving forward with a safe and sensible approach to legalization that will ensure we can keep our communities and roads safe, promote public health and harm reduction, and protect Ontario’s young people,” the attorney general said.
There will be 40 LCBO weed stores in place across the province on July 1, 2018, 80 by 2019, and 150 in 2020. (Source: Toronto Star)