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Oct 18, 2018

Ontario Passes Provincial Cannabis Legislation

By Aaron Swartzman

Yesterday marked a historic moment for Canada as the federal Cannabis Act came into effect, legalizing cannabis across the nation. In Ontario, Bill 36 (Cannabis Statute Law Amendment Act, 2018) also passed its third reading, 69-41, and received Royal Assent.  The Bill officially enacted the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 (the “CLA”)and amended certain other acts, including the Cannabis Control Act, 2017 (the “CCA”)the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation Act, 2017 (the “OCRCA”) and the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 (the “SFOA”).

The CCA (formerly the Cannabis Act, 2017) was amended by repealing a section that provided for prohibitions on places where cannabis may be consumed. Instead, prohibitions on where cannabis may be consumed are added to the SFOA. Under the SFOA, there is no longer a distinction between non-medical cannabis and medical cannabis. Ontarians are now effectively permitted to smoke cannabis in locations where smoking tobacco and the use of e-cigarettes are permissible. Of course, there are certain places where consumption of cannabis is expressly prohibited, for instance in a vehicle or boat.

The amendments to the OCRCA explicitly provides that the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (the “Corporation”) will have the exclusive right to sell cannabis in Ontario online and by any other means other than by directly or indirectly operating retail stores. As well, the Corporation has the exclusive right to act as a wholesaler and sell cannabis to operators of retail stores.

The CLAsets out the licencing requirements for those who plan to operate a retail cannabis store. Potential applicants will be able to apply to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario for a cannabis retail manager licence, retail operator licence and a retail store authorization for each store that the applicant plans to operate. In addition, the CLA allows for a municipality to pass a resolution by January 22, 2019 to prohibit cannabis retail stores from being in the municipality. Municipalities that implement such a prohibition will be able to lift the ban at a future time. The CLA also sets out requirements for the sale of cannabis in cannabis retail stores and the operation of the retail stores.