November 14, 2018

The Ministry of the Attorney General has released proposed regulations governing private cannabis retail in Ontario. We understand that the regulations define ‘public interest’ for the purposes of municipal input and commentary to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) on proposed retail sites in communities allowing cannabis retail. For the purposes of municipal and community input ‘public interest’ will pertain to promoting public health and safety, protecting youth and restricting youth access to cannabis and preventing illicit activities in relation to cannabis sales.

These regulations provide a clearer picture of how storefront cannabis retail will work in Ontario and gives municipal governments a better sense of the anticipated community impacts of allowing stores within a municipality.

AMO is working to provide a draft policy statement template [anticipated the week of November 19th] to assist municipal councils in identifying local circumstances and interests with proposed cannabis store sites using the definition of ‘public interest’. If adopted by council, municipal staff can use this statement to provide input to the AGCO within the 15-day statutory comment window for approval of sites.

The regulations also set out:

  • How municipal governments must inform the AGCO of a decision to opt out of hosting retail cannabis stores within the municipality – as of January 22, 2019
  • Store requirements and hours – stand alone stores can operate between 9:00 – 23:00
  • Able to sell only cannabis products, accessories and shopping bags
  • Distances of retail locations from schools (150 m measured from the property line for stand-alone schools)
  • Eligibility for licensing as well as education requirements for operators, managers, and staff

The AGCO will be consulting further on the regulations, licensing processes and proposed operational standards for stores through a series of webinars. For more information watch: www.agco.ca. AMO understands these webinars will start later in November and encourages municipal staff to participate in order to better inform council decisions.

While the AGCO will begin accepting operator license applications in December 2018, AMO understands that proposed store location approvals for individual retail sites will come after councils have made decisions by January 22, 2019. If a council does not opt out, retail cannabis sales are allowed.

Municipal governments are encouraged to review the regulations, the AMO template policy statement when available along with other AMO documents such as the October 3, 2018 AMO Briefing to inform local decisions regarding cannabis retail.

Councils and staff should recall that opting out of allowing cannabis retail in their communities will affect funding for the transition to recreational cannabis from the Ontario government and sharing in any surplus cannabis revenues over $100 million. AMO expects further details regarding cannabis funding to municipal governments in the coming weeks.

AMO will review these regulations in greater detail and continue to advocate on members’ concerns and input. The template policy statement will be distributed soon by email and posted on the AMO web site.