Ontario is about to make legal marijuana more readily available for purchase. Last Friday, provincial leaders announced plans to open 150 weed-stocked stores by the year 2020, with both physical and online options to buy.
The move will officially make Ontario the first place in Canada to implement a detailed strategy for legal distribution. Finance minister, Charles Sousa, told media outlets last week that the province needed to take action before federal laws take into effect. Speaking with the Canadian Press, Sousa put it rather bluntly (pun very much intended). "We are running out of time. We have to be prepared by next year."
Earlier this March, federal lawmakers revealed that recreational marijuana use will be greenlit by July 2018. In Ontario, the operation will be overseen and monitored by the LCBO, who are shaping up to be the only legal distributor in the entire province. Just like alcohol, those under 19 will not be able to buy or posses weed, and the product will be prohibited at work and in public places.
As for the many independent dispensaries, Attorney General Yasir Naqvi warned clerks to shut them down before facing arrest and seizure. "Illicit cannabis dispensaries are not legal now and will not be legal retailers under the new model. These pot dispensaries are illegal and will be shut down. If you operate one of these facilities, consider yourself on notice." Despite all of the doom and gloom, Naqvi says that the government will explore licensed shops sometime in the near future.
In related news, Toronto's mayor is hoping to tax future marijuana sales to help with overall regulation costs. You can read more about that over here.