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Ontario gov't gives in to "legal" privately-run pot storefronts

17 August 2018

- After cannabis legalization on October 17, the Ontario government says it will create an online platform and a private retail model for cannabis by April 1, 2019. Last month, The Globe and Mail first reported that Ontario is planning to scrap the existing retail model adopted by the Liberals that would have seen the government control all recreational cannabis sales through an arm of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.

Under a recently announced license agreement, Alcanna will be allowed to open cannabis stores using Aurora's brand name.

However, Taerk is optimistic in the long term thanks to the decision by the province to drop the plan of a government monopoly on cannabis shops.

Shopify declined an interview requested by IT World Canada for this story and provided a statement that Shopify "supports every retail model".

"As part of this process the government will begin consultations with municipalities, Indigenous communities, law enforcement, public health advocates, businesses and consumer groups and representatives of the other provinces with private retail to ensure that Ontario's private retail model remains safe while helping to eliminate the illegal market".

ITWC reached out to LCBO for this article but did not receive a comment in time for deadline.

And recent signals from the government in Ontario, the country's most populous province, indicate that lawmakers are also willing to reverse course, or at least entertain the possibility of privately run retail outlets.

"The government seems to be changing its mind before making an announcement here, so we really don't know what's to come", said Deepak Anand, vice president of government relations and business development with Cannabis Compliance Inc., an Ontario-based consulting company. "Instead, we will work with private sector businesses to build a safe, reliable retail system that will divert sales away from the illegal market".

But Ontario will also have a "tightly regulated private retail model" for marijuana that is scheduled to be in place by April 1, according to a release, months after the drug is legalized by Ottawa.

Some people might point out that a possible workaround this for people may be to grow their own marijuana at home, since the government will be allowing people to own up to 4 plants at a time.

"There is a point that the attorney general and I would like to make very clear today, the cannabis dispensaries and storefronts that are open today are illegal and they will remain illegal after October 17", he said. No specific number of allowable private-sector stores was given on Monday.

Ontario's original plan for selling marijuana, introduced by the Liberals, was to open 40 standalone cannabis stores in 2018 and up to 150 by the end of 2020.

"We look forward to engaging the Ontario government on potential retail locations", said Jay Wilgar, CEO of Newstrike, in a release.

Ontario gov't gives in to