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Cannabis Rules to Keep Ontarians Safe and Protected

Backgrounder

Cannabis Rules to Keep Ontarians Safe and Protected

Ministry of Finance

Ontario's Cannabis Act will come into force on October 17, 2018, the same day cannabis is legalized by the federal government. From day one, the province will have a well-regulated, well-enforced system that will focus on protecting children and youth, ensuring road safety, and fighting the illegal market. 

Retail and Distribution System

Consumers will be able to buy cannabis safely and securely through the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) website. The province is also introducing legislation for a private retail model that, if passed, would be launched by April 1, 2019. The OCS will be the wholesaler to the private retail stores.

The private retail store model will be developed in consultation with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the City of Toronto, Indigenous communities, police, the cannabis industry association and other key stakeholders to ensure safe, responsible sales. To help with costs related to the legalization of cannabis, the province will provide $40 million over two years to municipalities across Ontario. Funding will be allocated on a per household basis, adjusted to ensure that no municipality receives less than $10,000 in total.

Ontario will also draw on the learnings of other provinces like Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta that are moving ahead with private retail stores.

The consultation will help determine:

  • the types of eligible businesses and the rules by which they would operate
  • the roles of municipalities and First Nations
  • how to protect youth and children in our communities
  • how to protect against intervention by organized crime and the diversion of product.

Once the details of the model are established, Ontario will introduce legislation to put the necessary legal framework in place that would, if passed, enable private stores to open. Ontario will ensure that the framework is developed with the protection of youth and children as the top priority.

Protecting Youth

To keep cannabis out of the hands of youth, Ontarians will have to be 19 and older to buy, use, possess or grow cannabis. When those rules are broken, police, prosecutors and courts will be able to refer young people to prevention and education programs to divert them from the justice system.

In stores, products cannot be visible or sold to youth, and must be sold from behind the counter. Promotions must be limited to factual information and cannot be appealing to youth. Sponsorships and endorsements are not allowed.

Consumers who purchase cannabis through the online Ontario Cannabis Store will be required to confirm that they are 19 years of age or older before entering the website. Purchases will be delivered to consumers' homes, and ID will be checked to verify their age. Packages will not be left at the door.

Combatting the Illegal Market

Ontario's Cannabis Act will come into force on October 17, 2018, bringing with it strong tools for enforcement and extremely stiff penalties for illegal selling. The Act also allows for the immediate closure of storefronts that are being used for the illegal sale or distribution of cannabis. Current illegal storefronts will remain illegal after October 17, 2018.

The penalty for individuals who sell or distribute illegal cannabis, or who allow their property to be used to sell or distribute illegal cannabis, is a maximum fine of $250,000 and/or up to two years in prison for first convictions. There are also additional fines for each day on which the offence occurs or continues on subsequent convictions.

The penalty for corporations that sell or distribute illegal cannabis or allow their property to be used to sell or distribute illegal cannabis is a maximum fine of $1,000,000. There are also additional fines for each day on which the offence occurs or continues on subsequent convictions.

Ontario is working to provide the tools, training and resources law enforcement needs to keep us safe.

By establishing the minimum age as 19, Ontario is striking a balance between the health risks of cannabis use for young people, and the need to eliminate the illegal market for cannabis.

Impaired Driving

As of July 1, 2018, Ontario has even tougher drug-impaired driving laws. The new laws include zero tolerance for young and novice drivers and commercial drivers.

Trained officers can use the Standard Field Sobriety Test or the Drug Recognition Expert evaluation to detect impairment by drugs, including cannabis.

Higher financial penalties for impaired driving will come into force on January 1, 2019. See a complete list of Ontario impaired driving penalties.

Places of Consumption

Beginning October 17, 2018, individuals will be able to use recreational cannabis in private residences, including the outdoor space of a home (e.g. a porch or back yard), or in a unit or on a balcony of a multi-unit residence, subject to a building's rules or a lease.

Ontarians will not be able to use recreational cannabis in any public places, workplaces, motor vehicles or boats.

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