Provinces running out of time to regulate marijuana legalization

Published: September 14, 2018



The federal government’s Cannabis Act will start working in Canadian law from October 17, allowing people to legally consume marijuana for recreational use for the first time. Despite the impending legalization, many provinces are yet to finalize their regulations for governing the sale, distribution, and policing of marijuana.

Last month, the recently elected Progressive Conservative party in Ontario revised Cannabis rules put in place by the previous Liberal government. Ontario says it will allow cannabis to be sold online as soon as the Cannabis Act is started, but pot will not be available in private physical retail stores until early in 2019.

Conservatives say the new online retail model will be “tightly regulated” from Oct. 17, when Cannabis becomes legal. Private retail sales will not be allowed until after April 1, 2019. Online sales will be conducted through a new government agency called the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS).

This week, Ontario premier Doug Ford discussed how the privatization of marijuana in the province will work and how brokers can manage the insurance ramifications. However, Carlos Centeno, branch manager for Cansure’s Toronto division asks about the nuances in regulations for retailers:

“If you’re a retailer, you might have the ability to actually act within a particular province, but what if a municipality or certain bylaws prevent you from operating your retail facility within X-distance of a school or any other retail activity?” said Centeno in an interview with Canadian Underwriter.

“This minutia, from a legal perspective, should be considered. A lot of leases, for example, are being signed right now, but are being signed in the absence of an overall legal framework that perhaps will allow them or not allow them to operate, so there are a lot of unknowns.”

In Manitoba, retailers face strict laws on displaying and storing marijuana in their stores. Alongside required alarms and security cameras, store owners will only be able to display lesser amounts of cannabis in display containers. However, these displays will have to be secured by a chain or similar locking mechanism.

Other marijuana kept in stock must be stored in locked cases. In terms of retail to consumer transactions, Manitoba demands stores to limit sales to 30 grams per individual, while consumers will have to show identification to prove they are over 19.