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Marijuana stocks rally on Ontario plans to open 150 government pot stores


Ontario's Liquor Control Board, which runs the province's 660 liquor stores, will oversee the legal retail of cannabis through a new, yet-to-be-named subsidiary company.

Online distribution that will be available across Ontario from July 2018 onward.

A proposed minimum age of 19 to use, purchase and possess recreational cannabis in Ontario.

"We've heard people across Ontario are anxious about the federal legalization of cannabis", said Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi in a statement.

The plans include restricting marijuana sales to those 19 and older, a year above the minimum age recommended by the federal government's cannabis task force report in December.

It also stipulates the use of recreational cannabis will be prohibited in public places, cars and workplaces, and will only be allowed in private residences.

Just a couple weeks ago the premiers of all the provinces have met in Edmonton and announced their request to the federal government, which would postpone the legalization, but at that time it didn't look like Prime Minister Trudeau would agree to it.

"If you operate one of these facilities, consider yourself on notice", Naqvi said. "We also recognize that today's decision is a testament to the skill and talent our employees bring to their jobs every day and our reputation as an organization that is trusted by Ontarians for responsible retailing and actions that support moderate consumption". The pot will be sourced from federally licensed Canadian suppliers and then sold over the counter by staff trained to dispense it. Marijuana advertising will be restricted.

"Online sales will begin next July".

Similar to alcohol sales, online cannabis sales would require ID checks, signatures upon delivery and no packages left unattended at someone's door.

Ottawa plans to legalize marijuana by July of 2018, but is leaving it up to the provinces to design their own regulatory system.

The premiers said they would report back on progress by November 1 and would seek such an extension if the federal timetable was deemed "unrealistic".

Ontario's opposition parties both panned the government plan.

Mike Schreiner, leader of the Green Party of Ontario, feels it misses the mark.

Illegal pot shops in Ontario would be shut down over the next 12 months.

This strategy will aim to reduce the illegal market, enhance public safety and eliminate the sale of unregulated and potentially unsafe cannabis products.

"Both patients in Nova Scotia and dispensaries in Nova Scotia and other stakeholders have a lot to say and I think they have some unique ideas on how we can navigate some of the problems that other provinces have highlighted".

Leatherdale said the plan will be expensive and could help to maintain criminal activity.

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