LCBO to oversee 150 standalone pot retail stores

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The federal government has introduced legislation to legalize recreational marijuana by July 2018, but left it up to the provinces and territories to oversee distribution and sales.

However, the pot chain will not ncessarily be carrying the name of LCBO.

Online sales will start only after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau legalises weed. Under the Ontario plan, all private dispensaries will be shut down and smoking pot will be forbidden in all public areas.

Sarnia has no illegal dispensaries, Police Chief Phil Nelson said.

While having a government-run distribution model through the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority hasn't been ruled out, it does present challenges, he said. "If you operate one of these facilities, consider yourself on notice".

But medical marijuana growers are coming out in favour of the policy - no surprise, given that they will be the suppliers to Ontario's weed outlets under the plan announced Friday by Premier Kathleen Wynne's government. She said the strategy was doomed to fail.

Jodie Emery, a cannabis legalization activist and human rights advocate, argued on Twitter that the new measures represent a continuing crackdown on private stores, noting that government-controlled supply is unlikely to meet the skyrocketing demand.

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Consumption won't be allowed in public spaces but the government will explore the possibility of allowing marijuana-licensed establishments in the future.

The Ontario Liberal government's plan includes new programs to "promote awareness of cannabis-related health harms" for young people and "vulnerable populations". They would have a "behind-the-counter" system, similar to how tobacco is sold now, to ensure age restrictions are enforced. There are now more than 80 dispensaries in the Toronto area alone, according to the website WeedMaps.

On impaired driving, he said that new drivers would likely face a "zero" limit, while experienced drivers would be permitted to have a small amount in their system - so long as they aren't impaired.

"Decisions relating to pricing and fees will be taken after that the federal government will release more information", said the ontario government, which has not been advanced on the possible price of a gram of cannabis. Legislation around this remains to be drafted.

The aim of these regulations, according to government officials, is to ensure public safety and to curb sales within the black market.

Dozens of illegal dispensaries spread east from Vancouver to Toronto after the federal Liberals swept to office two years ago on a promise to legalize the drug.

"We know that alcohol and marijuana use is quite high in Ontario and across Canada. if you increase somebody's ability and access in one location, that might increase people using multiple substances, which poses increased risks health-wise, social-wise etc".

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