Opinion: LCBO’s Horrible Legal Weed Policy for Ontario Legalization
May 10, 2018 Editorial
The LCBO and the Ontario Government have announced more details of it’s legal cannabis plan… and it’s bad. Ontario’s proposed marijuana legislation will, if passed, establish regulations to govern the sale of recreational pot in the province.
This involves establishing 40 legal dispensaries (exclusively controlled by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario) by July 2018 when legalization is slated to begin.
For contrast purposes, the city of Toronto has over 120 medical marijuana dispensaries alone.
Personally, I don’t see how the Ontario government thinks 40 legal dispensaries will be able to serve Canada’s largest province with 13.6 million people and stomp out the illegal market.
Let’s do the math…
If you do the math, that’s only 1 store for every 340,000 people in the province. How is this going to curb the legal market you ask? Simply put, it wont.
If this proposed legalization plan goes through, you can expect very long lines and wait times at the legal dispensary… … That is if your town is lucky enough to get one of the 40 dispensaries in the province.
As of writing (April 2018) the LCBO has announced just 4 dispensary locations. One each for the cities of: Toronto, Kingston, Thunder Bay and Guelph.
Below are some highlights of the new bill proposed by the LCBO:
–Sets the legal age to use, buy or cultivate marijuana at 19 years of age.
–Bans cannabis use in public places, workplaces and vehicles.
–Creates a provincial retailer, a subsidiary of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, which will open and operate 150 standalone stores to sell cannabis by 2020. The first 40 will open by July 2018, with that number rising to 80 by July 2019.
–Establishes a penalty structure to crack down on illegal storefront dispensaries. The maximum fine for unlawful cannabis sales by an individual is set at $250,000 and two years less a day in jail. For corporations, the fines range from $25,000 to $1 million. That same fine structure also applies to landlords (individual and corporate property owners) who knowing allow illegal marijuana sales on their property.
–Establishes fines of $200 for people under 19 who are convicted of cannabis possession or consumption while also allowing for diversion, instead of the fine, into programs focused on education and prevention.
–Under the proposed rules, young or novice drivers (with a G1, G2, M1 or M2 licence) would face licence suspensions from three to 30 days and fines from $250 to $450 if they have drugs or alcohol in their system. Currently, young and novice drivers face a 24-hour licence suspension and no monetary penalty.
Editors Opinion on the Proposed Legislation
It seems like the Ontario government and the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) are being very greedy and don’t want any private dispensaries competing with them in the market so that they can set and control the price.
This limited supply of store outlets will likely result in high prices, long lines at legal dispensaries, and a number of other headaches for Canadians wishing to purchase legal weed.
The illegal market in Ontario will still thrive under this policy for at least a year or two because prices will be lower and the illegal market will be more convenient for most people.
Does the government really expect someone in rural Ontario to drive 1-2 hours to their nearest legal dispensary or wait a few days for an online order to arrive in the mail when there is an illegal dealer in town who will deliver to them within minutes?
Cannabis sold through provincial stores with taxes added on top will be more expensive than tax-free unregulated street weed.
In consumer buying behaviour there are two key factors:
In order for legalization to succeed, the governments must make it easier and more convenient for consumers to get their cannabis from a legal store rather than an illegal source… Because it sure as hell isn’t going to be cheaper with all the proposed taxes.
Until the Ontario government figures this out, the illegal market will continue to thrive.
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