SIOUX LOOKOUT – As you know the Provincial Cannabis Act, 2017 will come into force on Thursday, October 17, 2018. Key elements of the Act include:
1. Prohibiting the sale of recreational cannabis to anyone under the age of 19.
2. Prohibiting youth (under 19) from possessing, cultivating, consuming and sharing cannabis.
3. Addressing illegal selling, including illegal storefronts.
The Act will implement a tightly regulated licensing and regulatory framework for private storefront cannabis where,
• Private retailers will be licensed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO)
• The Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC) will be the exclusive wholesaler and online retailer of cannabis in the province
• First Nation communities will be able to opt-out of cannabis deliveries and retail stores
• Municipalities will be able to pass a council resolution by January 22, 2019 to opt-out of retail stores
Embedded in the Act are specific provisions for both municipalities and for First Nations.
First Nations-Specific Provisions in Ontario Legislation
1. On Reserve Delivery Prohibition
• The OCRC will be required to implement a prohibition of on-reserve delivery when requested by a First Nation community through a band council resolution
2. Retail Store Opt-out & Approval
• First Nations will be able to opt out of private cannabis retail stores by way of band council resolution. This would not be time-limited.
• If a First Nations community does not opt-out of retail stores, a band council resolution will be required to approve a store on reserve before the AGCO issues a retail store authorization
3. Agreement with Council of the Band
• The Attorney General will be able to enter into agreements with First Nation communities on a wide scope of legislative components. For example:
• The Cannabis Act, 2017 includes authority for the Attorney General to enter into agreements with First Nations communities related to cannabis regulation on matters within the scope of the Cannabis Act, 2017 (e.g. minimum age, enforcement tools, etc.)
• To enter into arrangements or agreements with a council of the band with respect to the regulation of retail stores on a reserve, the licensing or authorization of persons to operate the stores or the enforcement of the Act and the regulations on a reserve.
Critics of the First Nations sections of the Act have noted that:
“This is not friendly legislation to First Nations’ economic and health and safety jurisdiction. The Act takes an approach that the Province is the regulator and wholesaler on an “exclusive right” basis across Ontario…………both the federal and Ontario governments have done little in order to accommodate the concerns and interests of First Nations, let alone make any room for inherent First Nation jurisdiction.”
• Local municipalities will have the opportunity to opt-out of cannabis retail stores in their communities by January 22, 2019
‒ Municipalities that opt-out of cannabis retail stores can allow them in the future, but municipalities that do not opt-out of stores by January 22nd, cannot opt-out of them at a later date
• In municipalities that do not opt out of stores, if a request for a store location is received, the AGCO will initiate a public notice process in which the affected municipality and the public will have an opportunity to identify any comments within a 15-day period
‒ AGCO Registrar will consider any comments raised through this process when making its final decision to grant an authorization for that location
‒ MAG will continue to consult with municipalities on the implementation of this process
‒ Municipalities will not be able to designate cannabis retail as a separate land use from retail generally or create a cannabis retail licensing regime within their jurisdiction
For further information about Bill 36, please contact the Attorney General’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org. or you can contact my office at SMamakwa-QP@ndp.on.ca.