Kitchener announced one of 14 cities to host legal marijuana store

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Photo by Will Borys

 

The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) has announced the first 14 cities proposed to host a legal marijuana store in preparation for the federal government’s plan to legalize cannabis.

Kitchener is among the 14 cities chosen and the stores are intended to arrive by July of 2018.

Other proposed store locations include Toronto, London, Kingston, Hamilton, Mississauga, Barrie, Brampton, Ottawa, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Vaughan and Windsor.

A site for the Kitchener store has not yet been identified.

These stand-alone cannabis stores have been proposed to be overseen by the LCBO and sold and distributed by the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC).

“Over the coming weeks, staff from the Ministry of Finance and the LCBO are meeting with staff at the identified municipalities to discuss the guidelines and process for siting stores and local interests,” Scott Blodgett, spokesperson for the ministry of finance, said in an email statement.

Once the store site is identified, a public notice will be posted on the LCBO cannabis updates website and at the physical site in Kitchener.

“We are committed to ensuring a safe and sensible transition to federal legalization by ensuring cannabis remains a carefully controlled substance subject to strict rules to protect youth and young adults.”

“The public will have the opportunity to submit questions and comments on the intended site before it is confirmed,” Blodgett said in the email.

The Ontario Cannabis Act is proposed to make it illegal for people under the age of 19 to buy, sell, have and share recreational cannabis. This is consistent with the minimum age for the sale of tobacco and alcohol in Ontario, according to the Government of Ontario’s website.

“The guidelines will achieve our objectives of protecting youth by ensuring stores are not in close proximity to schools while providing access within communities and addressing the illegal market,” Blodgett said in the email.

Although the sale and distribution will be overseen by the LCBO, cannabis will not be sold in the same store as alcohol in Ontario.

The OCRC will have a monopoly on cannabis in the Ontario market and existing “dispensaries” now operating illegally will be forced out of business, according to The Star.

“These pot stores that we see in our neighbourhoods today are illegal. They will remain illegal – only the OCRC could sell cannabis for recreational purposes,” Attorney General Yasir Naqvi said, according to The Star.

Ontario expects to have about 80 stand-alone cannabis stores that are projected to open by July 1, 2019 and 150 stores by 2020.

“We are committed to ensuring a safe and sensible transition to federal legalization by ensuring cannabis remains a carefully controlled substance subject to strict rules to protect youth and young adults,” the Government of Ontario’s website said.

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