Being free to smoke cannabis out in the open, without worry, is a dream come true for many. Ontario residents and visitors will have that freeing option once cannabis is officially legalized in Canada on October 17. Wherever it is permitted to smoke tobacco, either in or out of doors, cannabis will also be allowed.
There are a few reasonable restrictions. You must be 19 years of age to be using cannabis, period, and using the plant while driving or operating a boat is definitely not allowed. The fines for toking while operating a motor vehicle range from $1,000-$5,000 upon conviction.
Where restrictions seem to be lacking is in the marketplace. Ontario is not yet putting a cap on how many pot shops can pop up, creating a truly free marketplace that could also become truly saturated.
While all of this still sounds like a very open minded approach, and it is, retailer be warned: one misstep and you’re out of the game. Anyone caught violating the rules of cannabis will be barred from opening up any kind of cannabis store in the province, ever.
“Any engagement with organized crime, any record of providing youth cannabis, any of that would bar you from participating in the private cannabis market,” said Victor Fedeli, Minister of Finance. “If you are still operating an illegal retail operation after October 17, you would not be able to get a licence in Ontario.”
The smoking in public places and private residences clause came from the Progressive Conservative government on Wednesday. The declaration loosened rules once made by the previous Liberal faction.
Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner openly praised the Conservatives’ plans, but with a word of caution as to the free market. “The cannabis market should not be a windfall for large corporate players with inside access to the premier’s office,” he said in a statement. “I will be standing up for small, Ontario-owned businesses and job creators. I will also be standing up for Indigenous communities to be involved in the cannabis market.”
All communities will be allowed to shed any lingering stigma by toking down some ganja or enjoying a puff or vape outdoors without fear of prosecution — as long as they pay attention to the signs and a few well-placed rules.