In a dramatic about-face, the Ontario government announced today that privately owned cannabis retail will be coming to the province.
Under the newly-announced framework, the sale of recreational cannabis will initially be available only online in the province when the Federal Government brings the Cannabis Act into force on October 17, 2018. However, the provincial government will be implementing a privately owned retail framework which will be developed after consultation with a variety of stakeholders. These consultations are set to begin almost immediately.
Municipalities will have a large say over the shape of private retail in the province as the provincial government will give them a one time ability to opt-out of allowing bricks and mortar locations within their own jurisdictions.
This course of action is a dramatic departure from the model announced by former Premier Kathleen Wynne. Under Premier Wynne, the province had planned for a model which consisted entirely of government owned retail.
The door for change opened on June 7, 2018, when Wynne was voted out of power in favour of Conservative Premier Doug Ford.
Rumours began to surface in late July that Premier Ford was considering opening the door to privately-owned retail, however the government has been essentially completely silent on the issue until today.