Is Ontario ready for recreational cannabis this July? The answer may be yes and no. LCBO President and CEO George Soleas reported in September that they are beginning work on implementation tasks.
Some decisions have been made. Cannabis will be sold online and in 40 retail cannabis-only outlets in 14 Ontario cities in July. Hamilton is one of these first 14 cities. The number of stores will increase to 80 in 2019 and finally 150 by 2020. (Ontario has 650 LBCOs and 447 private Beer Stores.)
Hamilton residents will have an opportunity to weigh in during a public comment period concerning store locations.
Rules and Ramifications!
Current rules require a customer be 19+ years. Smoking cannabis is prohibited in cars and any public place or workplace. Adults may grow up to 4 plants at home for personal use. OCRCs (Ontario Cannabis Retail Corp) are the only permitted sellers of cannabis in Canada.
According to the Hamilton Spectator Sunday (1/21/18), the new law seems to rule out private lounges. Toronto now has 7 private lounges where people socialize and smoke. The Hotbox Lounge owner wants to keep private lounges (that don’t sell it) legal and open.
People living in close quarters like apartments worry about possible neighbor disputes over cannabis smoke.
A third concern comes from the 35 current cannabis dispensaries in Hamilton who will be illegal under the new law.
And then, there are citizens who don’t trust the government to manage this industry. On the other side are citizens who don’t trust private corporations like big pharma who gave us the opiod crisis.
Where will the Cannabis Come From?
Ontario licensed and regulated producers have been supplying medical cannabis, but are they geared up for the new market? Two large Ontario producers are adding greenhouses and capacity, Canopy Growth Inc and Aphria Inc.
Some worry that supply will fall far short of demand for a year or two, and that rushing may jeopardize product safety. Current dispensaries suggest leaving their outlets in place in the short term to meet supply.
CBC News: The National produced a recent video series about the cannabis implementation challenges. It’s amazing and well worth checking it out!