Province Set to Choose Locations for Marijuana Stores in Halton and Beyond

The province is making moves on its plans for regulating and dispensing cannabis once the federal government follows through on its agenda to legalize the substance next year - next stop, locations for stores where the substance will be sold.

That’s right, Ontario is starting to identify locations for cannabis stores, engaging all municipalities as part of a “safe and sensible approach to legalization.”

All municipalities - those in Halton included - were recently sent letters from the province that detail the next steps for establishing retail stores in each city to prepare for a July 2018 legalization.

The process will be led by the [Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO)], working closely with the government and local communities,” said the province in a statement.

The LCBO will indeed oversee the legal retail of cannabis in Ontario through new stand-alone cannabis stores and an online order service. The Cannabis Control Board of Ontario (CCBO) will be run by and in the same way as the LCBO.

This approach will ensure that there will be only one legal retail distributor for cannabis in Ontario and alcohol and cannabis are not sold alongside each other - so you won’t be able to grab some marijuana with your booze.

According to the province, approximately 150 standalone stores will be opened by 2020, including 40 stores by July 2018, and rising to 80 by July 1, 2019, servicing all regions of the province. Online distribution will be available across the province from July 2018 onward.

As for where the stores will be located, there are two main considerations for Ontario’s municipalities:

  • To achieve geographic distribution of stores across the province
  • To reduce the number of illegal stores, including dispensaries, currently in operation

Two major concerns follow: ensuring that youth are protected (the minimum age to purchase and use cannabis will be 19, just like alcohol and tobacco), and that the illegal market is “addressed.” This covers making sure stores aren’t in close proximity to schools.

"It is critical that in establishing a new, legal retail system for cannabis we protect our youth and combat the illegal market,” said minister of finance Charles Sousa. “Municipalities are essential partners in our efforts to distribute cannabis across the province. As we move forward with retail implementation, officials from the Ministry of Finance and the LCBO will meet with municipalities that have been identified for potential sites to discuss concerns and next steps in this initiative."

So, once the LCBO picks a prospective store site, you’ll find a notice posted online and at the location to let the public know that a space has been selected for a proposed storefront.

The province has clarified that the public will be able to ask questions and provide feedback before further decisions are made to open the store in that location.

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