In June 2018, Canada became the first major economy, and the second country in the world, to legalize recreational cannabis. This made major headlines around the world.
“We’ve just witnessed a historic vote for Canada, the end of 90 years of prohibition,” said Tony Dean, the senator who sponsored the bill in the Senate.
Since legalization in October 2018, people have been buying weed online from the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS), a Crown corporation of the government of Ontario. For the first six months of legalization, this was the only legal way to buy.
On April 1, 2019, the first brick-and-mortar stores opened across Ontario, drawing long lines of enthusiastic consumers and curiosity seekers.
More than 50 people gathered outside Central Cannabis in London, Ont., before it opened its doors. The animated man at the head of the line, Jason Geldof, had driven in from Goderich, Ont., thrilled when he left the store with his purchase.
“It’s nothing to be ashamed of,” he said, holding up his receipt for all to see. “I think we can bring it out into the public eye. It’s clean. We’re all respectable people. We’re all adults”.
Still have questions about the legal weed industry here in Ontario? We’ve got answers:
Who oversees the licensed recreational stores?
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) is the provincial regulator for private cannabis retail stores. They grant stores their licenses and make sure they operate and sell weed safely within the law.
How do I know if a store is operating legally?
Under the Cannabis Licence Act (Ontario), operators of authorized cannabis retail stores must display the Provincial Retail Seal in a place you can see from the public entrance to the store.
How did the first stores get their licences?
The AGCO ran a lottery to determine who would be able to apply for 25 licences to operate the first legal stores in the province. In January, winners were announced. These operators had to complete legal and regulatory requirements to protect the public. Each successful applicant attained a retail operator license and a retail store authorization.
Before opening up shop, each store underwent a pre-opening inspection, this included everything from security to signage to make sure it was all legal and ready to go.
Where are the legal stores in Ontario?
More than a dozen legal stores opened in Ontario after April 1, 2019, including in Ottawa, Kingston, Toronto, Brampton, Burlington, London and St. Catharines. New stores are expected to open in the coming months.
For the most up to date list of authorized retailers operating across Ontario, click here.
What products are available for purchase legally in Ontario?
Currently, in store or on the OCS website you can purchase:
- Dried cannabis flower
- Cannabis seeds
- Pre-rolled joints
- Cannabis oil
- Cannabis gel capsules
- Cannabis accessories, and
- Shopping bags
All the products must be displayed and sold in the packaging in which it was received from the licensed producer.
Where does the weed come from? Is it safe?
The OCS is the exclusive wholesale and distributor of weed and other recreational cannabis products in Ontario. It gets weed from federally licensed producers whose operations are strictly monitored and regulated by Health Canada as set out in the federal Cannabis Act (Canada). Their production facilities are subject to regular inspections as are the growing conditions and storage of their cannabis. Before it is sold to the OCS, federally licensed third-party labs test it for harmful substances, such as pesticides and contaminants. Each product label indicates the range of THC and CBD levels, weight, strain, package date and more, so you know exactly what you’re consuming.
Who can buy cannabis at authorized retail stores?
You have to be at least 19 years old to buy cannabis, or even enter an authorized retail store in Ontario. Trained employees are required to check the ID of anyone who appears to be under 25.
How much can I buy?
You can buy up to 30 grams (about one ounce) of dried flower or the equivalent per purchase, and can have no more than 30 grams of cannabis or equivalent on you in public at one time.
Thirty (30) grams of dried weed is equivalent to 150 grams of fresh cannabis, 60 millilitres of cannabis oil or 30 cannabis plant seeds.
Where can I consume it?
Pretty much anywhere you can smoke a cigarette. In most private residences (including your front porch, balcony and backyard); sidewalks, parks and many other outdoor public spaces; designated smoking guest rooms in hotels, motels and inns; boats and vehicles when used as a temporary or permanent living space and not in use. (This excludes boats carrying passengers.)
Visit Ontario.ca/cannabis for more information on where cannabis is sold, cannabis laws, and health and safety.