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The Ontario government is proposing a number of significant legislative and regulatory changes to its cannabis framework that it says would combat the illegal market.
The province plans to make amendments to Ontario Regulation 468/18 under the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, that would effectively increase to 150 the number of stores retailers and their affiliates are allowed to operate.
The current limit is 75 stores.
The province said the increase would help combat illegal cannabis stores.
“We welcome Ontario’s move to increase its store cap to 150 and explore other measures aimed at curbing the illicit market,” High Tide CEO Raj Grover told MJBizDaily via email.
The Alberta-based retailer said the cap increase comes as some operators that have a franchise model are already approaching, or have exceeded, 75 stores in the province.
“The move also brings Ontario closer to Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, which don’t have a store cap but do have higher rates of illicit market capture, especially Alberta which is the highest in the country,” Grover wrote.
The province also intends to seek legislative changes to the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, and the Cannabis Control Act, 2017, “that would support negotiations with First Nations communities on the regulation of cannabis on reserves.”
Earlier this year, MJBizDaily reported that Ontario had failed to secure any government-to-government deals regarding cannabis regulation with First Nations since 2018, a potential factor for their general absence from the federally and provincially legal industry.
It’s unclear if any have been reached since then.
In February, there were only about 24 provincially authorized recreational marijuana stores situated on First Nations reserves across Canada, or 0.7% of the 3,300 retailers in Canada.
The lack of government-to-government deals between provincial governments, including Ontario, and First Nations is thought to be one of the factors.
Further changes proposed by the Ontario government include:
- Exploring different enforcement options against illegal online cannabis sales. No further details were provided.
- Banning the cultivation of recreational cannabis in homes that offer child care services.