The provincial government has announced that they intend to introduce a combination of online and regulated private retail to address the upcoming legalization of cannabis. It’s a move that is supported by the Chamber Network. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has advocated for a private-sector, licensing-based, and locally-oriented approach for the distribution of recreational cannabis since commitments for legalization were made by the federal government in 2016.
“We would like to stress that safety and social responsibility must be the first and overwhelming priorities of any distribution system, taking into account larger concerns about the underground economy, health and safety, and the administrative impact on municipalities,” says Rocco Rossi, President & CEO, Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “We look forward to continuing to work with the government during their consultation process with all stakeholders to ensure this approach is carefully designed to grow Ontario’s economy and build shared prosperity for all.”
Ministers Vic Fedeli and Caroline Mulroney state that under the new plan private retailers will have to follow a series of provincial rules, such as prohibiting the sale of cannabis to anyone under the age of 19.
Online sales will begin immediately following the legalization on October 17th, with the private retail model to follow on April 1, 2019. Leading up to that date the government will be conducting a series of consultations. Consultations will include municipalities, Indigenous communities, businesses, law enforcement, and public health advocates. The consultations will also be used to determine specific rules including the types of eligible businesses that will be able to sell cannabis, the roles of municipalities and First Nations and how to protect children.
Ontario is not the first province to go this route; Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta are also choosing to implement a private retail model, while the private retail model has yielded economic benefits in several US states.
In the 2016 approved policy resolution, the submitting chamber details the economic benefits to Colorado and Washington since they legalized cannabis. In 2014, Colorado retailers sold $386 million USD of medical and $313 million USD of recreational marijuana, totalling nearly $700 million USD in sales. These sales generated $63 million USD in tax revenue and an additional $13 million USD collected in licenses and fees. The state’s Department of Revenue projected that marijuana sales in the state would exceed $1 billion USD in 2016.
Blueprint Letters for Making Ontario Open for Business
In July, the OCC wrote to each provincial Cabinet minister, outlining a blueprint to execute over the next four years that will help make Ontario open for business. In these letters, we asked that the current plan for distribution be re-evaluated prior to the October 17 legalization date, and that the government consider the following principles in the process of policy design:
Recreational cannabis use will not be allowed in any public spaces, workplaces or motorized vehicles. The province is also planning to give municipalities a one-time window to opt-out of permitting a physical
cannabis store within their boundaries.
The Peterborough Chamber of Commerce has held several sessions on marijuana and the workplace and the responsibility of employers and employees. A recap of a panel from our 2017 Business Summit is available on our YouTube channel – Peterborough Chamber.
We would like to hear from our members and business community about their thoughts on the
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