Province Introduces New Legislation to Protect Youth, Keep Roads and Communities Safe
Ontario has introduced legislation that would, if passed, safely regulate the use and distribution of recreational cannabis when it is legalized by the federal government in July 2018.
Ontario’s proposed Cannabis Act, 2017 would support the province’s safe and sensible transition to the federal legalization of cannabis.
The proposed legislation would: create a new provincial retailer, overseen by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO), to ensure safe and socially responsible distribution of recreational cannabis through stand-alone stores and an online order service. Under the proposed approach, approximately 150 standalone stores will be opened by 2020, including 40 stores by July 2018 and rising to 80 by July 2019. Online distribution will also be available to service all regions of the province. It would also protect youth by setting a minimum age of 19 to use, buy, possess and cultivate cannabis in Ontario and focus on harm reduction by allowing for the diversion of people under the age of 19 from the justice system into programs focused on education and prevention, avoiding unnecessary contact with the justice system. The bill aims at banning the use of cannabis in public places, workplaces and motor vehicles, similar to alcohol. Also keeping Ontario roads safe by establishing even tougher drug-impaired driving laws, including a zero-tolerance approach for young, novice and commercial drivers is also part of the program.
The province will continue moving forward with its plans to support youth, young adults and other vulnerable populations through an integrated prevention and harm reduction approach. Ontario is also planning a public information campaign, coordinated with the federal government, to raise awareness of this transition and the new measures that will take effect.