The Ontario PC Government Unveils Surprisingly Liberal Position on Smoking Weed in Public
In what should've been the liberal position from the beginning of legalization talks, the Ontario PC Government announced yesterday that when recreational cannabis becomes legal on October 17, it will allow for the consumption of weed anywhere tobacco use is rightfully permitted. Also, the AGCO was named as the main regulatory agency and given permission to grant - or revoke - licenses to a limitless number of retailers across the province.
“We're aligning with the Smoke-Free Ontario Act.” said Ontario Attorney General, Caroline Mulroney. “If you're able to smoke tobacco in your home then you'll be able to use cannabis as well.”
The control arm of the new marketplace will fall on the maybe capable shoulders of a new branch of government, the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation, that will bear the exclusive burden of delivering online sales direct to consumers and wholesale product to retailers. It is a reversal in the way in which our province regulates alcohol, preferring now to control just the supply and not the physical retailing of the product.
The model emulates one in Alberta currently regulating their alcohol industry. The formerly named Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission , now the Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis Agency (AGLC), controls the importation and warehousing of alcohol in the province and then distributes that product to licensed retailers who control the retail price for consumers. While the system has allowed for a much wider range of product coming into the province, it is worth noting that Albertans also pay among the highest prices for alcohol across the country, an opposing statistic to Ontarians thinking more competition in cannabis retailing will lead to lower prices for us smokers.
While the announcement is largely heralded by hippies and capitalists alike, the government takes a much more conservative approach in dealing with individuals and businesses who deviate from the law. Individuals caught under the influence of cannabis while in operation of a motor vehicle will face a fine from $1000-5000 on the first offense. Current retailers of cannabis who do not dissolve their operation ahead of legalization on October 17 will forfeit their right to apply for a legal license in the future.
"Any engagement with organized crime, any record of providing youth cannabis - any of that would bar you from participating in the private cannabis market." - Vic Fedeli, Ontario Finance Minister
Punishments aside, people-watching outside your favourite cafe is about to get a whole lot better, folks.