Ellis confident marijuana will be legal by summer

Recreational cannabis users need not worry about the legalization of their favourite herb coming to fruition this summer.

Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis is confident his Liberal government will receive royal assent on Canada’s new Cannabis Act from the Senate by the end of June when both the Senate and Parliament recess for summer break. There has been some debate in the senate calling for a delay to the proposed law changes in Canada which are expected to go through this year.

“It’s going through. It’s already in Third Reading in the Senate, so we expect it will receive Royal Assent by the end of June and have Parliamentary approval by the end of July. The provinces have already started to roll out their rules and regulations, as well as the list of municipalities that will have the first Ontario Cannabis Stores (OCS) and Belleville is among those stores,” Ellis said.

Ellis said the announcement on Belleville being among the original 29 municipalities receiving a cannabis store was made April 10, a day after Belleville city council rejected the amendment to the zoning bylaw on the medical marijuana research and development facility on Sidney Street.

The OCS will have locations starting in July in the following municipalities: Ajax, Barrie, Belleville, Brampton, Brantford, Burlington, Cambridge, Chatham-Kent, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Lindsay (Kawartha Lakes), Mississauga, Niagara Falls, Oakville, Oshawa, Ottawa, Peterborough, Sault Ste. Marie, St. Catharines, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Vaughan, Waterloo, Whitby, and Windsor.

Consistent with provincial guidelines, store locations adhere to municipal zoning by-laws, minimize proximity to primary and secondary schools and consider where illegal storefronts are currently operating. Input received from municipal officials through discussions with the LCBO on local areas of interest was also used to inform the identification of OCS store locations.

Preliminary retail store designs are being developed that consider input received from municipalities, proposed federal regulatory requirements and best practices from other jurisdictions that have legal cannabis retail stores.
Consistent with federal requirements, Identification will be checked to prevent underage access to cannabis and no one under the age of 19 will be permitted entry to the main retail store. The main retail space will include information about available products including accessories. There will also be a focus on responsible use and product education.

Consumers in all regions of Ontario will have access to cannabis through an online channel.

In addition to the retail store network, the OCS will also provide an ecommerce option to provide Ontarians age 19 and over with a safe and secure way to legally purchase cannabis for home delivery.

Recreational cannabis use will only be permitted in a private residence, including the outdoor space of a home (for example, a porch or back yard), or on a balcony for those who live in a multi-unit building like an apartment or condo, but that depends on the building’s rules or lease agreements.

Residents will not be allowed to use recreational cannabis in any public place, workplaces or motorized vehicles. These rules will be in place to protect people from second-hand cannabis smoke, and reduce youth and young adult exposure to cannabis.

Using cannabis in a public can result in a fine of up to $1,000 for a first offence and $5,000 for subsequent offences.

Residents will also be able to have a maximum of 30 grams (about one ounce) of dried cannabis in public at any time. Property owners will be able to grow up to four plants per residence (not per person). Legal seeds and seedlings can e purchased from the Ontario Cannabis Store.

It is illegal to drive drug-impaired. Cannabis, like many other drugs, slows reaction time and increases the chances of being in a collision.

If a police officer finds a motorist impaired by any drug, including cannabis, they will face serious penalties, including: an immediate licence suspension; financial penalties; possible vehicle impoundment; possible criminal record; and possible jail time.

Police officers will be authorized to use oral fluid screening devices at roadside. Once a federally approved device is available, the federal government will implement the use of those devices to help police enforce the law.

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