September 2018
Province Introduces Cannabis Legislation

2018-09-27 2:07:02 PM


The government tabled Bill 36, the Cannabis Statute Law Amendment Act. The bill, if passed, will implement the government's plan for the distribution of recreational cannabis. Key elements of the legislation include: 

  • Private retailers would be licensed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO)

  • The Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC) would be the exclusive wholesaler and online retailer of cannabis in the province 

  • Applications for retail licences would be accepted beginning in December of 2018 

  • The legislation would create due diligence requirements and specific eligibility criteria for the issuance of licenses and store authorizations, including financial responsibility and conduct based on the principles of integrity and public interest

  • Persons operating in contravention of provincial and federal Cannabis legislation would not be eligible to operate a cannabis retail store

  • There would be no cap on the total number of licenses or authorizations. However, ownership concentration limits for private retailers could be established by regulation in advance of December 2018

  • The sale or transfer of existing licences would be prohibited 

  • Authorized retailers would have to display the cannabis retailer seal and the legislation would create new offences for false representations as an authorized cannabis retailer

  • More specific details about store operating parameters (e.g. store format, security requirements, staff training requirements) would be established by regulation or by AGCO Registrar’s standards

  • ​A distance buffer between private cannabis retail stores and schools would be set through regulation in advance of December 2018 following further consultation with municipalities and key stakeholders

  • The Minister will have the power to designate, in writing, any power exercised by a police officer under the Act (with the exception of arrests) to any other person or class of person

  • ​Smoking recreational cannabis will be legal where tobacco consumption is permitted under the Smoke Free Ontario Act 

Opting Out: 

  • Municipalities would be able to pass a council resolution by January 22, 2019 to opt-out of retail stores

  • First Nation communities would be able to opt-out of cannabis deliveries and retail stores

  • If they chose not to op-out, municipalities would not be able to designate cannabis retail as a separate land use from retail generally or create a cannabis retail licensing regime within their jurisdiction

  • The province will provide $40 million over two years to help municipalities with the costs of recreational cannabis legalization 

  • As soon as possible this year, the province would make the first payment to all municipalities on a per household basis, with at least $5,000 provided to each municipality 

  • The province would then distribute a second payment following the proposed deadline for municipalities to opt-out, which would be January 22, 2019

    • Municipalities that have not opted-out as of that date would receive funding on a per household basis

    • This funding would support initial costs related to hosting retail storefronts

    • Municipalities that have opted-out would receive only a second $5,000 each

  • The province is considering setting aside a certain portion of the municipal funding in each of 2018-19 and 2019-20 for unforeseen circumstances, and priority would be given to municipalities that have not opted-out

  • If Ontario’s portion of the federal excise duty on recreational cannabis over the first two years of legalization exceeds $100 million, the province will provide 50% of the surplus only to municipalities that have not opted-out as of January 22, 2019

Places of Use: 
  • Smoking of cannabis (medical and recreational) would be prohibited in the same places where the smoking of tobacco is prohibited (e.g. enclosed public places, enclosed workplaces, and other specified places) 

  • All methods of consuming cannabis (e.g. smoking, vaping, ingestion) would be prohibited in vehicles and boats that are being driven or under a person’s care or control, subject to certain exceptions that would be prescribed by regulation 

  • Generally speaking, municipalities could pass by-laws further restricting the use of cannabis

Role of the AGCO: 
  • The AGCO would be responsible for issuing licences. In municipalities that have not opted-out of having retail stores within their jurisdiction, every licence application would be subject to a public notice process. The affected municipality and the public would have the opportunity to identify any comments on the proposed retail location within a 15-day period 

  • According to the legislation, if passed, the AGCO would also be responsible for the following: 

    • Issuing Retail Operator Licences after investigations (i.e. due diligence) into a business

    • Issuing Retail Store Authorizations to licensed Retail Operators for the operation of a specified retail store after a local public notice process (administered by the AGCO), and upon confirmation of meeting certain requirements (e.g. safety and security plans in place)

    • Issuing certain individuals a Cannabis Retail Manager Licence

    • Conducting compliance and audit processes, including store inspection prior to opening

Read the full bill here


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