Ontario government introduces legislation regulating recreational pot

Ontario's decision to not cap the number of privately-operated cannabis shops was welcomed by industry players, but market share restrictions on licensed producers and the lack of clarity on where marijuana stores can be located may pose headwinds for the sector.

Provincial government said it won't put a limit on the number of pot shops once cannabis becomes legal

Ontario won't cap the number of pot shops in the province once cannabis becomes legal on Oct. 17. (Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press)

The Ontario government has introduced legislation governing the licensing and regulation of the province's private cannabis retail marketplace.

The Progressive Conservative government says the bill will also allow those over 19 to smoke recreational cannabis wherever the smoking of tobacco is permitted, loosening the rules put in place by the previous Liberal regime.

The province says the proposed legislation would make the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario the regulator for the recreational pot marketplace.

The agency would have the power to grant — and potentially revoke — licences as well as enforce provincial rules on cannabis sales.

The province said yesterday that anyone looking to open a pot shop will have to apply for both a retail-operator licence and a retail store authorization for each potential location.

The bill would create a government agency called the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corp. to handle online cannabis sales, with a private retail model scheduled to be in place by next April.

The province has said the agency will also be the wholesaler to private retail stores.

Breaching provincial rules on cannabis sales would preclude someone from ever obtaining a licence in the future, the government said.

"Any engagement with organized crime, any record of providing youth cannabis — any of that would bar you from participating in the private cannabis market," Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said.