Ontario is Unprepared For Marijuana Legalization

Canada’s Most Populous Province Trails Behind the Others as Ontario is Unprepared For Marijuana Legalization

For Canadians, getting your hands on marijuana has never been much of an issue. This has been especially true of the years preceding legalization as a number of ‘grey market’ dispensaries have been servicing customers… Albeit not entirely legally.

However, if Ontarians were hoping to get their hands on legal cannabis come October, they might be disappointed.

While a number of provinces have signed contract with licenced producers to acquire weed, no such agreement has been signed with Ontario
This means no pot has been ordered to supply Ontario consumers. This might not be as big an issue as it seems, however. Doug Ford and the Ontario Progressive conservatives have asserted that Ontario will go with the privatization of cannabis as opposed to a government-owned and operated model… Such as those planned for Quebec, and the alternate reality where Kathleen Wynne won re-election. However, an earlier report by the Globe and Mail stated that online sales would be a different story.
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What About Online Weed Sales?

Getting a prescription online, NamasteMD
While no agreements have been signed with licensed producers, the Ford Government is still claiming online weed sales will be the jurisdiction of the government. Apps such as NamasteMD are poised to take over the market meanwhile.

It is no secret that the grey market has penetrated deep into the online world as well. Various sites such as The Chrono and Lifted Bud have crept up and carved themselves a niche in the market.

Even more promising, are apps like NamasteMD that enable the digitization of the entire medicinal cannabis industry. Weed businesses such as these have set themselves up to become industry leaders in a formative and rapidly expanding market

This flies in the face of the Ford administration‘s plan to operate government-owned online sales. With no marijuana currently ordered, it appears that this enterprise will be operating at a significant disadvantage when compared with its well established private sector competitors.

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Where are the Dispensaries?

Perhaps permitting various grey market dispensaries could be the best way forward for the deeply unprepared Ford government (image via Leafly)

The Ontario conservative government also claimed that 40 dispensaries would be operational by 2018. With 2 months to legalization and just over four months to go in 2018… It appears that the Ford administration will fall short of its promise.

By contrast, Alberta, British Colombia, Yukon, Newfoundland and Labrador, PEI and Manitoba have all signed deals with a variety of licensed producers. It appears that come October, some will be able to hit the ground running… While others will be left lagging behind.

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What Options Are There?

It is clear that Ontario is unprepared for marijuana legalization. But there still might be a way forward. Existing grey market dispensaries could be given consent to operate fully legally, thus eliminating the need to sign provincial agreements with licensed producers.

There might be a potential roadblock here in the form of the Federal Government, however. Justin Trudeau’s government has stated that anyone with a trafficking charge will be unable to participate in the new legal marijuana economy. Many of these cannabis dispensaries have been raided by police and thus many of their owners have received trafficking charges.

Ultimately, the appearance of legalization in Ontario is amorphous at best. More likely than not, the Ford government may be caught with its pants down come October.

By: Stefan Hosko
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