Reports of marijuana privatization on Thursday evening in Ontario has made some people in the province and especially those in the cannabis industry happy.
Ontarians on social media reacted to the announcement – still not official – over the reversal of the government-run monopoly by allowing an open door for marijuana privatization. A source told the Globe and Mail that Finance Minister Vic Fedeli and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney are expected to make an official statement as early as next week to outline a plan to let the private sector own and operate cannabis shops.
“Ontario going to Private Retail Cannabis means pot stores won’t be going on strike before a long weekend, or ever,” Chris Goodwin wrote Friday on Twitter, using the hashtag #privatesectorrules.
While Melissa Lantsman wrote: “This is win for Ontario.”
However, others like Wayne Samuels is reacting to the big news with a pinch of sale.
“Very interested to see the regulatory and enforcement plan, and what it means for the LCBO/Beer Store,” he wrote, reflecting Ontarians’ curiosity over the fate of the government-run Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS).
OCS is the moniker chosen for the dispensaries that will be operated by a subsidiary of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). LCBO is a Crown corporation that retails and distributes alcoholic beverages throughout the province of Ontario.
Before the Progressive Conservative Doug Ford’s inauguration as the Ontario’s premier, many pro-marijuana advocates including activists have lashed out at the Liberal-led government’s approach on cannabis in the province.
While the outgoing Liberals had planned to roll out 150 standalone government-run pot stores by the end of 2020, only a few were confirmed.
Not only that, but the OCS was not ready in Ontario itself. In June, the Puff Puff Post reported about how Toronto’s which had Ontario’s only OCS in Scarborough still at the time had the sign “FOR LEASE.”
The announcement comes as Canada is readying to the nationwide legalization of marijuana on Oct. 17.
Meanwhile, the source, who spoke on condition of not being identified to the Globe and Mail, said the government would still control the distribution of the product to the stores and manage online sales.
This means that the new regime will mimic that of the province of Alberta, which has a mix of both free competitions via privatization and some regulatory framework through the government.
In Alberta, businesses are allowed to privately operated their marijuana shops with licenses granted by the liquor commission.
“Actually, it looks like Doug Ford is copying the Alberta NDP model on pot sales,” Gen Gerson said.
The news comes after Ford’s almost retracted on privatizing the cannabis sector in Ontario in late June.
Before becoming Ontario’s incoming premier, Ford made a startling statement in March, when he said he backed a full-fledged “open market” to cannabis.
Kathleen Wynne, Ontario’s premiere at the time dubbed Ford’s statement as “reckless.” Debates during the Ontario provincial election also didn’t witness any bold statements from any party leader on cannabis, revealing fear over the topic.