Pubdate: Thu, 02 Nov 2017
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Toronto Star
Author: Robert Benzie
Page: A10


Forty retail shops will open by next summer, with 150 provincewide in

The province's new marijuana monopoly will be known as the Ontario
Cannabis Retail Corporation.

Attorney General Yasir Naqvi launched the OCRC - a subsidiary of the
Liquor Control Board of Ontario - in sweeping legislation Wednesday at
Queen's Park that takes effect when Ottawa legalizes recreational weed
next July 1.

"That is the legal name of that company. There will be branding that
we'll do . . . a visual logo, etc., that we will announce in the
future," said Naqvi, noting OCRC-run retail shops will sell bongs,
rolling papers and other paraphernalia.

"It will be most likely called something else other than Ontario
Cannabis Retail Corporation," he said of the stand-alone shops, the
first 40 of which will open next summer, jumping to 150 provincewide
in 2020.

Edible marijuana products will not be sold until the federal
government begins regulating them, which could be years away.

The OCRC will also control all online sales and the government's
legislation imposes measures to permanently shut down illegal
"dispensaries" now operating, including forced closures as soon as
charges have been laid. While police have raided the storefront shops
across Ontario, they often reopen while their cases are going through
the courts.

"These pot stores that we see in our neighbourhoods today are illegal.
They will remain illegal - only the Ontario Cannabis Retail
Corporation could sell cannabis for recreational purposes," Naqvi said.

To corner the market for the government, the Cannabis Act would
stiffen penalties for individuals or corporations convicted of
illegally selling or distributing marijuana and for landlords who rent
their properties to them.

These penalties include fines of up to $1 million for a corporation
and $100,000 for individual scofflaws, plus jail sentences of up to
two years less a day.

Only those 19 and over can buy, consume or grow cannabis and it can
only be consumed in private homes. Its use will be prohibited in all
public places, workplaces, or in cars, trucks and boats.

Up to four cannabis plants can be grown in private homes for personal

Naqvi said the legislation, which should pass before MPPs break for
Christmas, would toughen penalties for motorists who drive stoned with
increased fines and jail time.

The new law will "clarify" the rules and give municipalities the tools
to finally shut down illegal marijuana shops, Toronto Mayor John Tory

Tory welcomed the province's bill, which should clear the haze that
has allowed the storefront "dispensaries" to operate because of
ambiguity swirling around the federal legalization of recreational

"I am very comfortable with the direction in which the Ontario
government is going," Tory said, signalling to the dozens of remaining
marijuana dispensaries that they will soon be out of business.

"These shops, to the best of my knowledge, are illegal, have always
been illegal, will continue to be illegal and are not contemplated as
being part of the regime going forward," he said.

Wynne said Naqvi's legislation is "a plan for a safe, responsible
distribution of cannabis."

She noted local communities have a say in where the LCBO-run stores

"We will work with municipalities to make sure that they are in places
that are appropriate, just as LCBO stores are in places that are
appropriate," the premier said.

But Wynne emphasized the province is not expecting a huge cash
windfall from legalized recreational weed sales - even though the
black market is believed to be worth $7 billion annually nationwide.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt