Pubdate: Thu, 02 Nov 2017
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The London Free Press
Author: Allison Jones
Page: A6


TORONTO - Businesses that illegally sell recreational marijuana after
the government of Ontario sets up its own shops could be fined up to
$1 million under legislation tabled Wednesday.

One of the main aspects of the proposed law, which would take effect
once the federal government makes the drug legal in July 2018, is to
crack down on the array of illegal dispensaries, Attorney General
Yasir Naqvi said.

"We are going to work very hard towards that," he said. "We have put
very strict penalties in that regards. . . . We feel very comfortable
that the regime that we will put in place will be a significant
deterrent for these illegal businesses."

The bill also contains new penalties for people who are convicted of
illegally selling or distributing cannabis, including fines of up to
$250,000 and/or jail of up to two years less a day.

For every day those people or businesses continue to sell marijuana
after being convicted the first time, they will be subject to further
fines of up to $100,000 and $500,000, respectively.

The law would also allow police to immediately close premises they
suspect are being used for the illegal sale or distribution of marijuana.

Ontario was the first province to announce its detailed marijuana plan
last month, which includes the sale of the drug in up to 150 stores
run by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.

They are known in the legislation as the Ontario Cannabis Retail
Corp., though Naqvi admitted the name might be jazzed up a little.

"That is the legal name of that company," he said. "There will be
branding that we'll do, so that's to come, and sort of a visual logo."

Those stores will sell only to people 19 and older, a minimum age that
would also apply to possession, home growing and use of marijuana.

People under 19 caught using, growing or possessing weed could be
fined up to $200, or a court could refer them instead to an
educational or prevention program.

The bill also includes a ban on consumption in public spaces or
workplaces. But medicinal marijuana will be banned only where tobacco
smoking is currently prohibited.

The government has been coy on potential pricing, saying decisions
will be made after more details come from the federal government, but
that the aim is stay away from overly expensive prices that fuel
illegal sales.

Municipalities will find out in the coming weeks where the first
cannabis stores will be located.
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