Canada: Ontario Releases Proposed Framework For Regulation Of Recreational Cannabis

Last Updated: September 19 2017
Article by Jeffrey Hergott and Amir Torabi

On September 8, 2017, the Province of Ontario's Attorney General, Yasir Naqvi, together with Finance Minister Charles Sousa and Health Minister Eric Hoskins, announced the Ontario government's proposed framework (the "Framework") to regulate recreational cannabis, including its proposed retail and distribution model for sales of cannabis in Ontario. Ontario is the first province or territory in Canada to publicly announce a comprehensive roadmap for managing the sale and use of recreational cannabis, following the federal government's announcement in April 2017 that it plans to legalize and regulate the sale and distribution of cannabis in Canada by July 2018.

Ontario plans to manage the use and sales of recreational cannabis in very similar fashion to how it regulates alcohol and tobacco; to be overseen by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (the "LCBO"). The rollout will be intentionally restrictive, at least initially.

In developing the Framework, the Ontario government met with at least 50 organizations with an interest in the issue. This past summer, the Ontario government also conducted an online survey requesting feedback and perspectives from the public. The results of the survey have not been released, so it is not clear at this stage to what extent this public consultation was relied upon in developing the Framework.

The Ontario government plans to introduce legislation in fall 2017 following further consultations across the province.

Several of the key elements of the Framework are summarized below:

Minimum Age

The proposed minimum age to use, purchase and possess recreational cannabis in Ontario is 19. Under the proposed federal Cannabis Act - Bill C-45 – An Act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Criminal Code and other Acts (the "Cannabis Act") (see our prior article on this), the provinces and territories would be given the discretion to raise the minimum age from 18. Ontario has elected to do so, citing the need to find a balance between discouraging youth from using cannabis while also preventing youth from purchasing cannabis in the black market.

Protecting Youth, Young Adults and other Vulnerable Populations

The Framework proposes to prohibit individuals under the age of 19 from purchasing, possessing or consuming recreational cannabis entirely; the Cannabis Act would permit possession of up to five grams of cannabis for people under the age of 18. The Framework highlights a need to prevent unnecessary contact with the justice system for youth found possessing or consuming cannabis recreationally. As such, youth caught with small amounts of cannabis will have these amounts confiscated but may not necessarily find themselves involved with the criminal justice system; rather, youth could be subject to provincial fines similar to those that exist for alcohol-related infractions.

The Ontario government plans to focus on protecting youth through prevention, diversion and harm reduction strategies. Ontario proposes to undertake a public information campaign aimed at educating the public about cannabis use, endorsing Canada's Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines.

Retail Sales

The Framework proposes that the LCBO will establish a subsidiary corporation (the "CCBO") to be tasked with overseeing the distribution and sale of cannabis in Ontario. This entity will be the sole legal retail distributor for the sale of cannabis. It is expected that by July 2019, 80 standalone stores servicing every region of Ontario will be opened. By 2020, there are expected to be approximately 150 standalone stores.

While the standalone cannabis stores will operate under the same standards that currently apply to the existing LCBO stores, alcohol and cannabis will not be sold together in any of those stores or at any existing LCBO locations.

The LCBO will also establish an online distribution channel through the CCBO, allowing individuals in Ontario to purchase cannabis online and have it delivered to their residence. Products sold online will be stored, packaged and distributed in a safe and controlled manner. It is expected that identification will be required upon purchase and signatures required upon delivery.

The Framework would also incorporate certain additional requirements, as necessitated under the Cannabis Act, including the restriction of advertising and visibility of products to youth, similar to how tobacco is sold. Packaging and labeling information will also have to align with the requirements under the Cannabis Act.

Use of Cannabis

The Framework proposes that it be unlawful to use recreational cannabis in public places, workplaces or when inside a motor vehicle. However, the Ontario government will be consulting with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario and other stakeholders to explore the viability and implications of introducing designated establishments where recreational cannabis could be consumed. Whether this model will follow the Liquor Sales Licence model currently in place for bars, restaurants and special events remains to be seen.

The Framework does not address the use or sale of medical cannabis, which appears likely to remain status quo in Ontario.

Existing Cannabis Dispensaries

The Framework proposes a comprehensive enforcement strategy coordinated by all levels of government and local police services to shut down any illicit cannabis dispensaries currently in operation in Ontario. It was suggested that the new standalone cannabis stores could be set up in the same area as existing illicit dispensaries in an effort to displace them.

The announcement of the Framework has raised more questions than answers about the implementation and functioning of the retail sale of cannabis in Ontario. One major uncertainty is whether the cannabis retail outlets operated by the CCBO will be restricted in where they procure their supply of cannabis. Will the CCBO give preference to licensed producers with a presence in Ontario or will the stores source cannabis from licensed producers across the country?

We expect the issue of pricing and taxation to come to the forefront in the next round of consultations as the Ontario government looks to strike a balance between discouraging consumption while also preventing consumers from looking to the black market. The Ontario government will be meeting with federal government and other provincial officials this fall to work through potential taxation and revenue models.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions