Toronto- Ontario officials announced that the sale of recreational cannabis in the province will be delayed.
Residents in Ontario have newly elected a conservative government. The new officials not only plan on pushing back the start date for recreational cannabis sales, but they will restructure the proposed regulatory framework. Private retail outlets will oversee sales as opposed to the original plan of government-operated dispensaries.
Although sales in other Canadian provinces are expected to start on October 17, Ontario’s private vendors will not be permitted to do so until April 1.
Canada is the first G-7 nation to legalize recreational cannabis but seems to be rolling out the program slowly. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a cannabis legalization a focal point of his 2015 campaign. Although he assumed office in November of 2015, getting regulations finalized an implemented has taken close to three years.
While Canadian officials in other provinces favor heavy government oversight, Ontario’s new Premier Doug Ford prefers less government influence when it comes to cannabis sales. In March, he told CBC Radio that he did not want “the government sticking their hands in our lives all the time. I believe in letting the market dictate.”
Ontario officials plan to meet with business owners, consumer organizations, and local governments before finalizing their cannabis regulations. They will also analyze the planned approach to recreational sales by other provinces Ontario Attorney General Caroline Mulroney said at a recent news conference.
Ontario residents will only be able to legally purchase cannabis from online retailers between October 17 and April 1 according to Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli at the news conference.
“The system we’re proposing marks a significant departure from the approach of the previous government,” Fedeli said. “Implementing this new approach will take time.”
The plan by the Liberal Party previously in power planned to approve up to 40 cannabis dispensaries initially in Ontario. By the end of 2020, the number of legal shops would have risen to 150.
Although the Ontario government may have less involvement than originally planned, Fedeli signaled that authorities will be tough on illegal sales of cannabis.
“If a private retailer is caught selling cannabis to any underage buyer even once, their license is done,” Fedeli said. “And for those engaged in the underground today, our message is simple: stop.”