Pubdate: Sat, 04 Nov 2017
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2017 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Shawn Jeffords
Page: A9


TORONTO * Ontario has named the first 14 cities where it will set up
government-run marijuana stores by July 2018.

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario, which will run the shops through
a subsidiary, said Friday the stores will be located in Barrie,
Brampton, Hamilton, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Mississauga, Ottawa,
Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Vaughan and Windsor.

The LCBO said its representatives, along with staff from Ontario's
Ministry of Finance, will meet with the municipalities in the coming
weeks to determine the exact locations.

The Ontario government said it will be identifying more locations for
its first batch of 40 stores but notes that all consumers will be able
to access cannabis through an online retail website.

The province plans to set up approximately 150 standalone cannabis
stores by 2020.

Last week, Finance Minister Charles Sousa wrote municipal leaders and
said Ontario's store rollout aims to achieve the right geographic
distribution across the province and to reduce the number of illegal
marijuana dispensaries that have opened since the federal government
announced it will legalize marijuana next summer.

"Our proposed approach is to build on the expertise and back-office
capabilities of the LCBO to set up the Crown Corporation," Sousa said
in the letter to municipalities. "Our priority is to reduce the
illegal market by building on our strengths to create an efficient and
secure system for people across the province."

The public will also be notified about the proposed store locations
and will be asked to provide feedback directly to the LCBO, he said.
None of the retail stores will be located near schools, Sousa said.

The federal government introduced legislation in April with a goal of
legalizing and regulating the use of recreational pot by July 1, 2018,
but left it up to individual provinces to design their own
distribution system and usage regulations.

The Ontario government introduced its marijuana legislation earlier
this week, which 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.

Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi said the government will clamp
down on illegal distribution channels.

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