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Ontario to begin legal marijuana sales with online-only model

17 August 2018

Fresh off his convincing electoral victory, Premier Doug Ford has announced that he plans to begin the process of scrapping Ontario's existing approach to the retail sale of cannabis, which had been introduced by the predecessor Liberal government.

Ontario plans to begin licensing some private retailers to sell marijuana as early as next April but Attorney General Caroline Mulroney says that her government has no plans to permit dispensaries that have been flouting existing laws to participate in the legal market.

Several cannabis companies and business groups are applauding the Ontario government's new plan to add private retailers to its plans for the sale of recreational pot in the province.

Back in February, Ontario announced it had chosen Shopify Inc. Many provincial governments, including the previous Liberal government in Ontario, have planned a small number of stores to start with and tight control over supply.

Shopify declined an interview requested by IT World Canada for this story and provided a statement that Shopify "supports every retail model". The OCS will also be the wholesaler to private retail stores, the government said.

Physical cannabis shops will be subject to tighter regulations.

ITWC reached out to LCBO for this article but did not receive a comment in time for deadline.

Ontario will allow private retailers to sell recreational marijuana starting on April 1, officials from the province's Progressive Conservative government told a news conference, abandoning its predecessor's plans for government-controlled stores starting on October 17.

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"The Government of Ontario will not be in the business of running physical cannabis stores", Fedeli said in the release. "Instead, we will work with private sector businesses to build a safe, reliable retail system that will divert sales away from the illegal market".

Municipalities will have until April 1 to prepare for private retail stores.

People ordering marijuana online through the provincial outlet will have to sign for the package when it arrives and prove they are 19.

The province also said it will learn from the private models being implemented in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

Commercial sales of recreational marijuana in Canada are scheduled to begin October 17. "We will be ready to work alongside municipalities, law enforcement and Indigenous communities to combat organized crime and the illegal market".

One group not in favour of the government's new play is the Ontario Public Service Employees Union.

"We look forward to engaging the Ontario government on potential retail locations", said Jay Wilgar, CEO of Newstrike, in a release.

Prior to Monday's announcement, Canaccord Genuity analyst Matt Bottomley wrote that "we believe a shift to private retail could further complicate an already challenging process and result in a slower ramp for rec sales in Ontario".

Ontario to begin legal marijuana sales with online-only model