By Hannah Thibedeau, Mike Crawley
The Ontario government announced Friday that it will create a cannabis control board and open up to 60 storefronts in the first year to manage the sale and distribution of marijuana in the province.
Ontario ministers announced the measures at morning press conference.
The plans include restricting marijuana sales to those 19 and older, a year above the minimum age recommended by the federal government’s cannabis task force report in December.
The stores selling marijuana to the public will not be housed inside existing LCBO stores as Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne had previously suggested.
Illegal pot shops in Ontario would be shut down over the next 12 months.
- Ottawa sticks with July 2018 deadline to legalize pot
- Federal-provincial showdown looms over legal pot deadline
- Highlights from the federal marijuana task force report
In April, legislation was introduced in the House of Commons to legalize and regulate the sale and distribution of marijuana on or before July 1, 2018.
Many of the decisions about how the drug will be sold and taxed are being left to the provinces.
At a premiers meeting in Edmonton in July, the premiers announced they would ask the federal government to postpone legalization if issues related to road safety, taxation, training for distributors and public education are not addressed.
The premiers said they would report back on progress by Nov. 1 and would seek such an extension if the federal timetable was deemed “unrealistic.”
“The starting point is, have we met the public safety concerns, are we sure we have the provisions in place to protect youth, do we understand what the highway traffic implications are?” Wynne said at the time. “It’s those issues that we have to resolve because we have to keep people safe.”
Shortly after the premiers’ announcement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government intends to stick to the July 2018 deadline.