Recreational cannabis was legalized by the Federal Government on October 17, 2018, but left the rules and regulations around it up to each Province. In Ontario, regulations are currently being drafted to permit privately owned retail cannabis outlets, in addition to the online Ontario Cannabis Store. These stores and their operators will be licensed by the Alcohol & Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), following a mandatory notification period, and will be subject to strict rules around storage, signage, and promotions.
In order to receive a license, each retail store must be at least 150 metres from a school, only operate between the hours of 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. Monday to Sunday, unless otherwise governed by by-law and may only sell licensed cannabis products as regulated by the Federal Government.
These regulations are expected to be in force for April 1, 2019 when the sale of recreational cannabis from retail stores will become legal. Beyond these regulations, municipalities do not have the ability to control the location of retail stores. They will be allowed anywhere in the municipality that is zoned for commercial use and a municipality is prohibited from creating a special category of zoning to restrict their location.
Municipalities are being offered the opportunity to opt out of having retail stores in their community, but must do so by January 22, 2019. Municipalities may opt in at a later date, however if a municipality decides to opt in, the decision is final and they cannot choose to opt out at a later date.
The Ontario Cannabis Legalization Implementation Fund has been set up to provide $40 million of funding over 2 years to municipalities to help with the implementation costs of recreational cannabis legalization (i.e. increased enforcement, response to public inquiries, paramedic services, fire services and by-law/policy development). A minimum of $5,000 will be distributed in early January 2019 to all municipalities. This amount may be higher depending on the value attributed per household by the Province. A second payment will be made following the January 22, 2019 deadline which will be distributed as follows:
- Municipalities that opt-in will be guaranteed $5,000 or more depending on the value attributed per household by the Province.
- Municipalities that have opted-out will only receive $5,000 regardless of the number of households.
- Municipalities that have opted-in will have a higher priority than those that have opted-out in accessing a $10 million fund to address costs from unforeseen circumstances.
- The Province will provide 50% of the surplus of the Federal excise duty on recreational cannabis, if it exceeds $100 million over the first two years of legalization, to municipalities that have opted-in as of January 22, 2019. Opting-in at a later date will not qualify a municipality to receive this particular funding.
The United Counties of Leeds and Grenville and the Municipality will receive a 50/50 split of the allocations based on whether or not North Grenville opts in or opts out.
Feedback from the community about whether to opt in or opt out is being collected via the survey until January 10. In order to assist in completing the survey, Council will also be holding two information sessions:
- January 7 at the Municipal Centre (285 County Road 44) following the Committee of the Whole meeting at 6:30 pm.
- January 8 at the Bishops Mills Community Hall (38 Main St, Bishops Mills) at 6:30pm.
Additional information on the retail cannabis regulations is available from AGCO’s website at www.agco.ca.