The Canadian government is launching a monopoly on cannabis retail outlets in Ontario, the nation’s most populated province. If all goes to plan, the Canadian government will have opened 150 government-controlled cannabis stores by 2020.
The Liquor Control Board of Ontario would oversee the store chain, however alcohol will not be sold alongside cannabis. Ontario sets the legal age to buy cannabis at 19, and Canada as a whole sets the legal age at 18 or older. According to the Globe and Mail, the government hopes to open 40 stores by next year and 80 stores by July 2018.
Cannabis will be legally sold across Canada beginning on July 1, 2018. Nearly 40 percent of Canada’s entire population lives in Ontario, where the majority of shops will be located.
The Liquor Control Board of Ontario already runs the province’s 651 liquor stores. “When it comes to retail distribution, the LCBO has the expertise, the experience, and the insight to ensure careful control of cannabis, helping us to discourage illicit market activity and see that illegal dispensaries are shut down,” Finance Minister Charles Sousa told the Toronto Star.
It’s all too little, too late for Jodie Emery, who is facing charges for running the same kind of business that the government intends to run. “Do not criminalize the existing industry—this is deeply disappointing,” said Emery. Last year, Toronto police raided over 40 of the cities’ 100 premature cannabis shops that opened after the Liberal government announced it would be legalizing cannabis. Many more shops remain open from Vancouver to Toronto. The cities of Vancouver and Victoria have even issued their own permits to rogue cannabis shops.
Currently, the only bona fide legal way to obtain cannabis in Canada is through the mail from one of Canada’s 58 licensed producers, and that is done legally by first obtaining a prescription. The ultimate goal is to eventually choke off the illegal storefronts that have opened before receiving the green light.