Home Canadian News Ford government paves way for smoking pot in public

Ford government paves way for smoking pot in public

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Premier Doug Ford’s government is dramatically loosening the rules for cannabis smoking in Ontario, allowing people to consume pot in parks and other public spaces once it’s legal.
The changes will be included in a new bill to be tabled Thursday. It was previewed by the government on Wednesday after the markets closed.
Under the rules put forward by the former Liberal government, people were only allowed to spoke pot in their privately owned property. A government official speaking on background said those rules prevented anybody who rents in Ontario from smoking cannabis if their landlord banned it.
He said that was a problem because it stopped people from being able to consume a substance that will be legal.
The new rules for where people will be able to legally consume cannabis in Ontario will largely align with the rules for tobacco smoking under the Smoke Free Ontario Act. That means smoking cannabis will not be allowed within 20 metres of playgrounds or sports fields and within nine metres of a hospital entrance.
One important difference, though, is that people will not be allowed to smoke pot in cars.
As announced in August, Ontario will only be selling cannabis online once it becomes legal on Oct. 17. The retail stores are expected to open in April.
There are still many unknowns about the rules that will govern legal cannabis sales in Ontario, but the government was clear about a few things on Wednesday:
• The opt-out date for municipalities that won’t allow cannabis sales in their jurisdictions will be Jan. 22, 2019.
• The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) will be the exclusive wholesaler and distributor to private retail stores, and will sell cannabis online.
• The OCS will be removed from the control of the LCBO and will be its own stand-alone Crown corporation.
• People currently operating illegal dispensaries will be allowed to apply for a permit to operate a legal store, as long as they close their dispensaries before cannabis becomes legal.
• A buffer zone between schools and cannabis retail stores will be established.
• The retail stores will be stand-alone, so permits for selling cannabis won’t be granted to grocery stores or corner stores.
• A cannabis producer will only be allowed to operate one retail store.
In a statement, Attorney General Caroline Mulroney said the goal of the new rules is to “protect young people and effectively combat the criminal market.”
One of the outstanding questions is whether there will be a limit on the number of stores per municipality. Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said that will be decided in the regulations.
Liberal MPP Nathalie Des Rosiers questioned why the government hasn’t capped the number of stores that can open across the province in the first year. She warned that, without a cap, regulators could be overwhelmed.
“The experience of Colorado was that opening the market too rapidly caused some damages because there (were) not enough inspectors, there (were) not enough well-trained police officers to know how to monitor what was going on on the roads,” she told reporters after the announcement.
“Colorado had suggested to go a little bit more cautiously,” she said, pointing out that other provinces are taking that route.
The province said anyone who plans to open a pot shop will have to apply for both a retail-operator licence and a retail-store authorization for each potential location.
Breaching provincial rules for cannabis sales would preclude someone from ever obtaining a licence in the future, it said.
“Any engagement with organized crime, any record of providing youth (with) cannabis, any of that would bar you from participating in the private cannabis market,” Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said.
“If you are still operating an illegal retail operation after Oct. 17, you would not be able to get a licence in Ontario.”
The government said people with criminal records related to cannabis will still be allowed to participate in the marketplace.
Source:iPolitics.ca