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MPP Leal answers questions about legalized marijuana
October 06, 2017
BY TERRY GILLIS
On September 8, the Wynne government introduced their proposed legislation to deal with the Federal government’s plan to legalize recreational marijuana. The provincial plan, titled ‘Ontario’s Safe and Sensible Framework to Federal Cannabis Legislation,’ if passed, ensure cannabis remains a carefully controlled substance subject to strict rules on both the lawful use and retail of the product.
The plan is modeled on the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. The LCBO will oversee the legal retail of cannabis in Ontario through new stand-alone cannabis stores and an online order service. Where and how the product will be produced and distributed has not been announced. What has been announced is that the Provincial government’s priorities are to protect young people, focus on public health and community safety, promote prevention and harm reduction and eliminate the illegal market.
MPP Leal said that the provincial liberals intend to keep drugs out of the hands of kids and money out of the hands of organized crime (the illegal market) through the LCBO model.
“The model being chosen reflects the LCBO model where staff are well trained to enforce age restrictions and assess individuals who might have consumed too much. There will be a need for additional resources for police to reduce activity in the black market.
That being said, illicit cannabis dispensaries are not and will not be legal retailers. The province will pursue a coordinated and proactive enforcement strategy, working with municipalities, local police services, the OPP and the federal government to help shut down these illegal operations.
To protect our youngest generation, we will prohibit individuals under the age of 19 from possessing or consuming recreational cannabis. This will allow police to confiscate small amounts of cannabis from young people. Our approach will focus on prevention, diversion, and harm reduction without unnecessarily bringing them into contact with the justice system.
We will also be exploring training and other supports needed to increase capacity among education, health care, youth justice and social service providers to improve prevention and harm reduction efforts.”
You cannot buy pot and alcohol together in one LCBO store.
You will only be able to use recreational cannabis in private residences — not in any public space, workplace or motorized vehicle.
“Illegal” pot dispensaries remain illegal.
“We’ve heard people across Ontario are anxious about the federal legislation of cannabis,” Attorney General Yasir Naqvi said in a statement Friday. “The province is moving forward with a safe and sensible approach to legalization that will ensure we can keep our communities and roads safe, promote public health and harm reduction, and protect Ontario’s people.”
The Justin Trudeau government will legalize marijuana by next July.
Ontario intends to launch 80 pot stores over the first year and up to 150 stores by 2020, according to the government.
Most of the first stores will be located where most “illegal” pot dispensaries are located.
The pot sales are expected to cover the cost of setting up a new section of the LCBO to sell the product.
Ontario has agreed with the federal government on legal possession limits — up to 30 grams for an adult and up to five grams for a youth.
The big question — how much the government intends to charge for the product — has yet to be answered but it’s expected that taxes will be high.
No municipality has yet to indicate to the province that it does not want a pot store.”
The Lakefield Herald asked MPP Leal about the provincial government’s failure to consider farmers (so far) in the chain of production. He replied, via email, that “all producers of cannabis or cannabis products are licensed federally. Following the coming into force of the proposed federal Cannabis Act, the Government of Canada will establish application processes and criteria for those individuals or entities who wish to become producers of legal cannabis.
Farmers or farming organizations that wish to be part of the production chain once cannabis is legalized in Canada will be encouraged to contact the federal government for further details.”
As the Wynne plan states, only government owned and operated establishments will be legally allowed to sell pot. This eliminates opportunities for small business.
As the Minister of Small Business Mr. Leal was asked to comment on the province’s monopoly on marijuana sales. He said that “we understand that economic opportunities related to the legalization of recreational cannabis are top of mind for some small business owners in Ontario.
That’s why the Ministry of Economic Development and Growth will be engaging in discussions with stakeholders, including small businesses, through upcoming roundtables to better understand the opportunities and barriers faced by this emerging sector, and how the government can help encourage investment and growth in the context of Ontario’s proposed approach to the legalization of cannabis.
We know that Ontario’s medical cannabis sector already supports about 1,000 jobs and further opportunities may arise as we move towards legal recreational cannabis, benefitting small businesses in Ontario. For example, P.L Light, a manufacturer of horticultural lighting systems in Beamsville, has already seen their business grow by 25% because of the North American cannabis sector.
Small businesses are the backbone of Ontario’s economy and we are working hard to make sure they continue to have the opportunities and support needed to grow and succeed.”
The legislations is expected to be introduced some time this fall and Pricing and taxation decisions will come at a later date.
At a meeting in Toronto on September 26, Wynne admitted there are still many questions Ottawa must answer.