Ontario Changes Marijuana Sale Plans at Last Minute

The world has been watching with ever deepening interest as Canada gears up for the legalisation of marijuana. It has been a long road, full of many unexpected twists and turns, with debates flying back and forth as to the best fashion in which the legal sale of marijuana should occur. For the most part, it seemed that a consensus had been reached in most areas of the country.

Marijuana sales stalled in Ontario

But, although there is still no question that marijuana will officially become legal countrywide on October 17th, there are still surprise decisions taking place. Ontario, in what can only be described as an extremely abrupt change of heart, has scrapped plans for government organized and run marijuana outlets. Instead, it seems that all outlets will be privately run.

Regardless of other perceptions on this change of heart, the snap decision comes with a major drawback that already has Ontario residents up in arms. The sale of marijuana via outlets in the area will be pushed back by a considerable period, with April 1st being the soonest any outlets will be operating.

Ever More Complications

Speaking on the change, Finance Minister Vic Fedeli was quick to make the situation clearer. He made it well known that although there would be no land-based outlets selling marijuana, that purchases could still be made online, from the first day of legalisation. A relief for many, to be sure, and perhaps some indication that the immense financial benefit of legalised sales had been taken into account, at least to some extent. But Fedeli had more complications to add. He confirmed that the previous four locations identified as venues for official Ontario Cannabis Stores had been completely dropped.

The extra time Ontario has bought themselves will be used for serious consideration to be put into how a privately run system would work. Plus, the addition that really raised eyebrows; Fedeli declared that local municipalities would be given the option to opt out of having any outlets in their area. Although this would be a once-off chance only.

Time Is Ticking

It’s worth noting at this time that Ontario is almost the last province in Canada to declare a working system. Quebec has already announced that the province will sell cannibals via the already established alcohol sale systems, a smart move to be sure. Alberta, on the other hand, has gone for the private sell option, the same now being adopted by Ontario. It is little wonder then that some Ontario residents are growing more than a little impatient.

This impatience was worsened by the words of analyst Matt Bottomley. According to him, the plans laid out by Ontario make very little sense as far as timelines are concerned. Although he agreed that the private sale of cannabis in the province would be great for local growers, it would likely take a great deal longer than 1st April to get the systems in place and operating.

Cannabis sales under fire

A Year Of Lost Sales

According to Bottomley, awarding licenses to retailers, as well as going through tender process is no small task. Plus, with what he referred to as “bumps in the road,” it would likely be closer to a year before private sales actually got underway. A very costly delay, given the projected value of sales.

Predictions are that revenue could easily sit around $4,9 billion by 2022, making apparent the incredible potential that could easily be tapped. With the delay, it is clear that a serious amount of potential local revenue will be lost. Not to mention the ever-souring attitudes of residents.

It remains to be seen how the situation will unfold, but either way Canada is gearing up for official legalisation on October 17th.

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