The locations for Ontario’s first four recreational cannabis stores have been announced and these are: Toronto, Kingston, Thunder Bay, and Guelph.
According to the Liquor Control Board of Ontario and the Ontario Cannabis Store, the locations for these initial provincially run stores comply with the local zoning regulations. They have also factored in the illegal dispensaries currently operating in the area.
There will be 40 stores expected to open this year. Another 40 is also expected to open by July 2019. By 2020, the province intends to set up around 150 standalone cannabis retail stores.
It can be recalled that Ontario was the first Canadian province to come up and announce a detailed plan with regard to the sale and distribution of adult-use cannabis. The province also plans to set the legal purchasing age at 19.
The Toronto location
The Ontario Cannabis Store in Toronto will be in a strip mall on Gerard St. E. at Victoria Park Ave., alongside a kid’s martial arts center, a McDonald’s, and a student tutoring service. The Toronto outlet is also located within a kilometer of a few public schools, which includes Blantyre Elementary 450 meters south.
This strip mall in Toronto is a popular hangout among high school students from Notre Dame Catholic High School, Neil McNeil High School, and Malvern Collegiate.
However, Laurie French, Ontario Public School Board’s Association president, expressed her concern about the Toronto location. French is a trustee with the Limestone District School Board.
“What was their process in deciding for the Toronto location?” She is also asking whether the government consulted with the school board.
According to French, there is significantly less distance between the schools and the Toronto shop than the Toronto District School Board hoped for. Yet, she said that she knows how difficult this can be in the city.
She added that school boards have been very clear about wanting to be involved in the consultations regarding the locations.
Specific locations for other initial stores
In Guelph, the cannabis store will be on Stone Rd. W. In Thunder Bar, the store will be on Harbour Expressway. And in Kingston, it will be in an outdoor mall on Gardiners Rd. However, this Kingston mall is not a typical area for students to hang out in.
The provincial government said that they will be announcing more cannabis store locations in Ontario over the next months.
Ontario’s cannabis sales guidelines
The government-operated stores, including its online sales, are going to be the only places where one can legally purchase cannabis. Buyers also have to be at least 19 years old.
Moreover, smoking weed in public places, in offices, and inside vehicles, will also be prohibited.
Aside from announcing the four cannabis store locations in the province, the government also announced that it has named Nancy Kennedy as president of the Ontario Cannabis Store. Kennedy is a veteran senior bureaucrat.
Where is Canada now in the legalization of recreational cannabis?
Last year, the federal government introduced a bill – Bill C-45 – allowing for the legalization and regulation of recreational cannabis this July. However, the federal government left it up to the provincial governments to implement their own regulations for the use of the drug and to set up their own distribution system.
Just recently, Bill C-45 passed second reading in the Senate despite conservative senators opposing the legalization of adult-use marijuana. The bill is now under further review by five separate committees. After this committee stage, it will be up for a third and final reading.
The final vote on the bill is expected to take place in the first week of June. This means that the July 2018 target rollout date is pushed back.