Cannabis Bill 36

On September 27, 2018, the Ontario government introduced Bill 36, the Cannabis Statute Law Amendment Act, 2018.

If Bill 36 is passed, it will enact the Cannabis License Act, 2018 making amendments to the Cannabis Act, 2017, the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporations Act, 2017 and the Smoke- Free Ontario Act, 2017. The newly introduced legislation offers further clarity on the licensing and regulation of the province’s private cannabis market.

Under the proposed new Act, there will be two types of licenses- retail operator license and cannabis retail manager license. All retail stores will need authorization permitting its holder to operate a cannabis retail store.

It is believed that the government of Ontario will not put a cap on the number of retail pot shops when it starts licensing and regulating the province’s private cannabis market. Bill 36 further allows those over the age of 19 to smoke recreational cannabis wherever smoking tobacco was previously permitted. The proposed bill confirms that the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (“AGCO”) will be the regulator for the recreational cannabis market.

Bill 36 provides the AGCO the power to grant and revoke licenses and puts the AGCO in an administrative role in charge of enforcing the provincial rules on cannabis sales.

This will be a very competitive space and one with massive growth potential in the coming years. It is confirmed that anyone looking to open a pot shop will be required to have both a retail-operator license and a retail store authorization for every potential location to legally operate as a retail store in Ontario.

A new government agency, the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (“OCRC”) is being created to handle online cannabis sales. When cannabis becomes legal, people 19 and over will be able to purchase cannabis online through the Ontario Cannabis Store (“OSS”). You will be able to purchase up to 30 grams (about one ounce) of dried recreational cannabis at one time for personal use. As of October 17, 2018, the OSS website will be the only legal option for purchasing recreational cannabis. It will follow strict rules set by the federal government. The OCRC will act as the wholesaler to private retail stores. 

The new rules will be tightly regulated. Anyone found in breach of provincial rules on cannabis sales will be prohibited from obtaining a license in the future. As this is still a new area for most, and the laws and regulations are consistently evolving in this area, it is important to know the rules early on so that you are fully compliant with the regulations and are acting within the laws of Ontario.

Chand Snider LLP is a boutique law firm in Ontario which has been at the forefront of the licensing and regulatory field. With offices in both the financial district in Toronto and in Ottawa, Chand Snider LLP now has a dedicated Cannabis Law Group which is committed to serving our clients throughout Ontario. 

Whether you are a start-up, established business, licensed producer, investor, or someone looking into entering this growing market, call us today at 416-583-2377 and let our expertise work for you. 

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