We appreciate your patience as we work through this complex early stage of setting up operations for the retail sales of legal recreational cannabis. Along the way, we know you’ll have questions. This is where you’ll find answers to some of the most commons questions we’ve been asked so far. For policy and legislative updates, you can visit ontario.ca/cannabis – but beyond that, if you can’t find the answer you’re looking for here, feel free to contact us
Q: Why did the Federal government decide to legalize cannabis?
A: The Government of Canada has chosen to legalize cannabis to create a legal framework around production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis in Canada. More information about the federal framework can be found here.
Q: How will this impact LCBO’s business?
A: The LCBO has welcomed its new responsibility to set up a subsidiary to support the retail sales of cannabis. We will continue to deliver in the beverage alcohol business, ensuring that the LCBO meets our operational objectives.
Q: Where will cannabis be sold?
A: Under the proposed approach, Ontario will open 40 stores in 2018, growing to 80 by 2019, and up to 150 stand-alone cannabis stores by the end of 2020.
Stores would be complemented by an online channel that would provide all Ontarians with a safe and secure way to legally purchase cannabis following federal legalization.
Q. Will cannabis be sold in the LCBO? Would the new cannabis stores also sell alcohol?
A: No. Cannabis and alcohol will not be sold alongside each other. This is consistent with the recommendations of the Government of Canada’s Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation.
Q: What will be the name of the agency?
A: The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) is the brand name of Ontario’s cannabis agency, including its physical stores and the online channel.
Q: What kinds of cannabis products will be for sale?
A: Cannabis will be sold in the forms allowed under proposed federal law. These forms would initially include dried and fresh cannabis, cannabis oil, as well as cannabis accessories. Edibles will not be sold until such times as the federal government may choose to make these legal.
Q: What will the stores look like?
A: We are still concluding the design for the retail locations, and for the online retail channel. We look forward to sharing more details on the appearance and functionality of this retail network in the future.
Stores will operate with the same care and expertise we use for the LCBO’s alcohol sales. As well, stores will operate according to federal requirements for sales – in particular, all sales will be assisted sales via counter service, and there will be no self-service. Retail staff will follow strict requirements for age verification.
Q: How will you be purchasing product supply for the stores?
A: The OCS is currently considering opportunities to source cannabis from producers that will be licensed by the federal government to produce cannabis for recreational purposes. Information on suppliers that will source Ontario’s retail stores and online channel will be available closer to summer 2018.
Q: How can I become a licensed producer?
A: The production of cannabis in Canada is overseen by the Government of Canada. Details on licensed cannabis producers can be found on Health Canada’s website.
Q: Who will be staffing the stores, how will they be trained?
A: We are committed to training every employee with the same care and expertise used for the LCBO’s alcohol sales. They will be educated and trained in terms of responsible sale practices, product expertise, understanding the new law, and recognizing signs of intoxication. These stores will operate with socially-responsible retailing standards similar to those which apply to alcohol, as well as additional federal requirements for cannabis sales. For example:
- Ontario will comply with federal requirements that restrict advertising, do not permit products to be visible to youth and require a behind-the-counter type of retail environment.
- All sales will be assisted via counter service, and there will be no self-service. Retail staff will follow strict requirements for age verification.
- There will be mandatory training for retail staff. Staff will have knowledge of the individual products and public health information about how to use cannabis responsibly.
- Product types and formats will need to meet the federal government’s requirements, including forthcoming federal regulations on packaging and labeling information.
- Ontario would work closely with municipalities to consider community interests when choosing store locations (e.g., proximity to schools).
Q: Where will stores be located?
A: The Government of Ontario and LCBO have identified the first 29 municipalities for standalone cannabis retail stores by federal legalization this summer. They are:
- Lindsay (Kawartha Lakes)
- Niagara Falls
- Sault Ste. Marie
- Thunder Bay
The LCBO and the Ontario Ministry of Finance met with the first municipalities identified for cannabis retail stores to discuss the proposed guidelines and process for selecting store sites, including local interests. When a store site or sites are identified in a municipality, the address will be shared on www.ocscannabisupdates.com to notify the public and provide an opportunity to share comments and questions on that site.
Q: How were the municipalities that will have a store in summer 2018 identified?
A: In accordance with the province’s safe and sensible approach, two primary considerations were used to guide the identification of municipalities where stores will be located:
- To achieve geographic distribution of stores across the province
- To reduce the number of illegal stores, including dispensaries, currently in operation
Q: Once you identify the municipality, how will you decide where the stores will be located?
A: Municipalities are essential partners in the government effort to take a safe and sensible approach to cannabis distribution across the province.
The LCBO and the Ontario Ministry of Finance met with the first municipalities identified for cannabis retail stores to discuss the proposed guidelines and process for selecting store sites, including local interests.
The guidelines include the following:
- Adhering to municipal zoning by-laws,
- Minimizing proximity to schools,
- Equitable access for consumers within municipalities, and
- Addressing, where present, illegal storefront activity
Municipalities supported these guidelines and provided input on local interests to be considered in the siting process.
When a store site or sites are identified in a municipality, the address will be shared on www.ocscannabisupdates.com to notify the public and provide an opportunity to share comments and questions on that site.
Q: When will you know the locations of your stores?
A: The OCS is currently identifying stores within the selected Ontario municipalities. When a store site or sites are identified in a municipality, the address will be shared on www.ocscannabisupdates.com to notify the public and provide an opportunity to share comments and questions on that site.
Q: Will the public be engaged on where stores will be located?
A: When a store site or sites are identified in a municipality, the address will be shared on www.ocscannabisupdates.com to notify the public and provide an opportunity to share comments and questions on that site.
The LCBO has committed to providing the public an opportunity to ask questions and provide comments on the proposed sites of initial cannabis retail stores. Input from the public on proposed sites in their communities is an important part of the store siting process as it allows the LCBO to better understand local interests in the communities where the stores are to be located. This will help LCBO staff in each municipality ensure we are selecting a site that reflects the provincial guidelines and the local interests.
Q: What measures are you taking to protect against underage purchases?
A: We will be taking responsibility not to serve minors, intoxicated persons, or those buying for either. We take this seriously. Preventing sales to anyone under the designated legal purchasing age of 19 for cannabis sales, and to intoxicated people, will remain a priority as we continue our focus as a responsible retailer.
Q: Will those who require cannabis for medical purposes be able to purchase from these retail stores and online?
A: The Government of Canada will continue to oversee the production and sale of medical cannabis. Under federal requirements, eligible persons would continue to access medical cannabis by purchasing directly from a federally licensed seller of cannabis for medical purposes. Information on this process can be found on Health Canada’s website.
Q: How will online ordering work?
A: The online channel will be designed to complement stores by providing secure and safe delivery across the whole province.
Products would be stored, packed and distributed in a safe and controlled manner. At a minimum, the same safeguards that exist now for our online alcohol sales would apply, including ID checks and signatures upon delivery, and no packages left unattended at the door.
Q: Who will be delivering the product?
A: We don’t know yet – but it’s important to us is that the same safeguards that exist now for our online alcohol sales would apply, including ID checks and signatures upon delivery, and no packages left unattended at the door.
Q: What are the delivery times?
A: That’s still to be determined. But, we do aim for a delivery process that makes sense for our customers.
Q: Where will you deliver?
A: We will deliver, safely and securely, across the entire province.
Q. Where can outstanding questions regarding the retailing of cannabis in Ontario be submitted?
A: As we prepare to launch retail stores and online sales of cannabis in Ontario, beginning in July 2018, Ontarians may submit any outstanding questions directly here.