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Bill 174: Cannabis Act, 2017 
Federal Government Set To Legalize Recreational Cannabis
Ontario Government Set to Regulate Distribution & Consumption

The issue: By July 2018, cannabis will be legal in Canada. It is up to each province to determine how cannabis will be distributed and consumed. The ORHMA and our members have worked in partnership with the Government of Ontario to sell and serve liquor and tobacco for several decades, and we are well positioned to add cannabis products to this portfolio.

Background: In April 2017, the Federal Government introduced legislation to legalize and regulate recreational cannabis in Canada by July 2018 .If passed, the proposed Cannabis Act would create rules for producing, using and selling cannabis across Canada.

Ontario Passes Legislation for Recreational Use of Cannabis  

Ontario Passes Legislation to Ensure Safe Transition to Federal Cannabis Legalization  

Ontario passed legislation that will regulate the lawful use, sale and distribution of recreational cannabis by the federal government's July 2018 legalization deadline. It also repeals the Smoke-Free Ontario Act and the Electronic Cigarettes Act, replacing them with a new Smoke-Free Ontario Act. It also amends the Highway Traffic Act regarding driving under the influence of drugs.

What’s in the Ontario Cannabis Act, 2017:

  • Creates the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation, which will be run by the LCBO and tasked with opening 40 cannabis retail locations by July 1, 2018.
  • It will also control all online sales of cannabis.
  • Cannabis use will be banned in public places and will only be sold to people 19 and over.
  • It also includes “strict, escalating penalties” for illegal storefront dispensaries to discourage them from reopening after a raid.
  • Corporations could face fines up to $1 million plus jail time for the illegal sale of cannabis.
  • An individual under the age of 19 caught possessing cannabis could face a $200 fine.
  • An adult caught consuming marijuana in public will face a fine of up $1,000 on the first conviction and up to $5,000 for subsequent convictions.
  • increases penalties for driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, including a zero tolerance policy for young drivers. It also contains a provision authorizing the use of automated school bus camera systems and their resulting evidence.

ORHMA Advocacy  ORHMA Recommendations:
  • Any legislation on this should expand no smoking rules to apply to legalized cannabis. This would provide a reasonable and precautionary safeguards to employees, customers and bystanders from exposure to a product that requires one to be 19 years to purchase and inhale.
  • ORHMA recommends that this would mean that smoking legalized marijuana be treated the same as tobacco, electronic cigarettes, medical cannabis and be prohibited in restaurants and bar patios across the province.
  • It is important the provincial government realize that less than twenty per cent of hotel rooms in Ontario are designated for smoking. Many hoteliers inform us the demand for smoking rooms has declined and continues to do so.
  • Should the government seek an exemption otherwise it would definitely add more red tape to Ontario’s hospitality industry as they would have to create policy, police it and enforce it. Owners and operators of restaurants, hotels and motels would have to train current and future staff which is time and money out of their business bottom line. This would also be challenging for businesses to address with their customers and the guest experience.

ORHMA supports the Government of Ontario’s policy priorities to:

  • Keep cannabis out of the hands of children and youth
  • Protect public health
  • Promote safety on roads, in workplaces, and in public places
  • Limit the illegal cannabis market.

ORHMA supports:

  • Expanding existing regulations for alcohol and tobacco to cannabis, including regulations for advertising and promotion.
  • Educating all residents of Ontario about responsible use of alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis as part of the school curriculum starting no later than Grade 6.
  • Controlling the potency and content of cannabis products available for sale to young adults.
  • Developing a scientifically proven roadside test for cannabis impairment.
  • Leveraging Ontario’s existing liquor industry model for the regulation, distribution, and sale of cannabis.