#Cannabis, #YasirNaqvi, #EricHoskins, #CharlesSousa, #LCBO, #OPP
Toronto, Sept 11 (Canadian-Media): An announcement was made during a press conference last week by Yasir Naqvi, Ontario Minister of Attorney General, Charles Sousa, Provincial Minister of Finance, and Eric Hoskins, Ontario’s Minister of Health and Long-Term Care that that safe and sensible legislation and retail of recreational cannabis -- a carefully controlled substance -- within the province will be introduced later this fall, media reports said.
Cannabis: Wikimedia Commons
Sousa was quoted by the media as saying, “We are committed to getting this transition right. When it comes to retail distribution, the LCBO has the expertise, experience and insight to ensure careful control of cannabis, helping us to discourage illicit market activity and see that illegal dispensaries are shut down,” Ontario News release said.
Ontario’s approach -- to the legalization of cannabis would reportedly keep in mind practical lessons of other jurisdictions of recently legalized cannabis and province's experience in managing tobacco and alcohol -- will focus on ensuring a safe and sensible transition to federal legalization.
Ontario is reportedly the first province or territory in Canada to publicly announce a comprehensive plan to regulate federally legalized cannabis.
“We’ve heard people across Ontario are anxious about the federal legalization of cannabis. 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 young people,” Naqvi was quoted by media as saying.
Key elements that would be included are: The proposed minimum age of 19 to use purchase and possess recreational cannabis and prohibition of its use in public places and workplaces; LCBO will ensure new stand-alone cannabis stores and an online order service and that there will be only one legal retail distributor for cannabis in Ontario and alcohol and cannabis are not sold alongside each other; opening of 150 standalone stores by 2020, including 80 by July 1, 2019 and availability of online distribution across the province from July 2018 onward.
Other elements include prohibition of dispensation of Illicit cannabis by legal retailers; a coordinated and proactive enforcement strategy in coordination with municipalities, local police services, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the federal government to help shut down illegal operations; allowing police to confiscate small amounts of cannabis from people under age 19; development of an integrated prevention and harm reduction approach by education, health and social service providers and educate to support young people and vulnerable not bringing them into contact with the justice system, youth and young adults.
OPP: Twitter handle
The federal government will provide further details with respect to pricing and taxation after focusing on discouraging consumption and eliminating the illegal market.
Ontario would consult closely with municipalities, Indigenous communities, and stakeholders to determine additional details about the retail and distribution system and would undertake a public information campaign in coordination with the federal government.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)