The government of Ontario has announced the AGCO as the regulator for privately run recreational cannabis stores.
Applying its experience as the province’s regulator of the alcohol, gaming and horse racing sectors, the AGCO’s focus will be on the safe, responsible and lawful sale of cannabis, consistent with the government legislation, once enacted.
The AGCO will move quickly to define the licensing process for private retailers once the legislation has been enacted, and will work closely with the government to support the goal of having private stores licensed and open for business by April 1, 2019.
When cannabis is legalized on October 17, 2018, Ontario’s Government for the People will be ready with rules that keep cannabis out of the hands of children and youth, and keep our roads safe.
Ontario will have laws in place (after extensive public and stakeholder engagement) about how, where and who can buy and possess cannabis in the province. The government has also introduced legislation that, if passed, would help the province move forward with a tightly regulated private retail model for cannabis that would launch by April 1, 2019.
Medical cannabis will continue to be subject to different rules than recreational cannabis.
If you have questions, comments or feedback about our approach, contact us.
Minimum age will be 19
You will need to be 19 and older to buy, use, possess and grow recreational cannabis. This is the same as the minimum age for the sale of tobacco and alcohol in Ontario.
Where to use it
The government has proposed legislation that, if passed, would provide the following rules for using cannabis, both medical and recreational.
Where you could smoke and vape cannabis*
Private residences – this does not include residences that are also workplaces (e.g. long-term care and/or retirement homes)
Many outdoor public places (e.g. sidewalks, parks)
Designated guest rooms in hotels, motels and inns
Residential vehicles and boats that meet certain criteria (e.g. have permanent sleeping accommodations and cooking facilities, and are parked or anchored)
Scientific research and testing facilities (if the cannabis use is for scientific research and testing purposes)
Controlled areas in:
long-term care homes
certain retirement homes
provincially-funded supportive housing
designated psychiatric facilities or veterans’ facilities
*Additional restrictions on smoking and vaping may exist in municipal bylaws, lease agreements, and the policies of employers and property owners.
Where you could not smoke or vape cannabis
You would not be able to smoke or vape cannabis in:
indoor common areas in condos, apartment buildings and university/college residences
enclosed public places and enclosed work places
non-designated guest rooms in hotels, motels and inns
Schools and places where children gather
You would not be able smoke or vape cannabis:
at school, on school grounds, and all public areas within 20m of these grounds
on children’s playgrounds and public areas within 20m of playgrounds
in child care centres, or where an early years program is provided
in places where home child care is provided – even if children aren’t present
Hospitals, hospices, care homes and other facilities
You would not be able to smoke or vape cannabis:
within 9m from the entrance or exit of hospitals (public/private), psychiatric facilities, long-term care homes, independent health facilities
on outdoor grounds of hospitals (public/private) and psychiatric facilities
in non-controlled areas in long-term care homes, certain retirement homes, provincially-funded supportive housing, designated psychiatric or veterans’ facilities, and residential hospices
Publicly owned spaces
You would not be able to smoke or vape cannabis in publicly-owned sport fields (not including golf courses), nearby spectator areas and public areas within 20m of these areas.
Vehicles and boats
You would not be able to consume cannabis (smoking, vaping, eating) in a vehicle or boat that is being driven or is at risk of being put into motion.
Other outdoor areas
You would not be able to smoke or vape cannabis:
in restaurants and on bar patios and public areas within 9m of a patio
on outdoor grounds of specified Ontario government office buildings
in reserved seating areas at outdoor sports and entertainment locations
grounds of community recreational facilities, and public areas within 20m of those grounds
in sheltered outdoor areas with a roof and more than two walls which the public or employees frequent, or are invited to (e.g. a bus shelter)
Using cannabis and driving is illegal and dangerous. Cannabis, like many other drugs, slows your reaction time and increases your chances of being in a collision.
If a police officer finds that you are impaired by any drug, including cannabis, you will face serious penalties, including:
an immediate licence suspension
possible vehicle impoundment
possible criminal record
possible jail time
Police officers will be authorized to use oral fluid screening devices at roadside. Once a federally approved device is available, we will implement the use of those devices to help police enforce the law.
Zero tolerance for young, novice and commercial drivers
You will not be allowed to have any cannabis in your system (as detected by a federally approved oral fluid screening device) if you are driving a motor vehicle and:
you are 21 or under
have a G1, G2, M1 or M2 licence
the vehicle you are driving requires an A-F driver’s licence or Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration (CVOR)
you are driving a road-building machine
Where to buy recreational cannabis
When it’s legal, people 19 and over will be able to purchase cannabis online through the Ontario Cannabis Store. Online orders will be delivered safely and securely. Consumers will be required to verify their age to accept delivery and no packages will be left unattended at the door.
You will be able to purchase up to 30 grams (about one ounce) of dried recreational cannabis at one time for personal use.
As of October 17, 2018, the Ontario Cannabis Store website will be the only legal option for purchasing recreational cannabis. It will follow strict rules set by the federal government.
The government has also introduced legislation that, if passed, would help the province move forward with a tightly regulated private retail model for cannabis that would launch by April 1, 2019. The legislation would establish the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) as the provincial regulator authorized to grant store licences. The Ontario Cannabis Store would be the exclusive wholesaler to these stores. Private stores would be introduced with strict controls to safeguard children and youth and combat the illegal market.
How much cannabis you will be able to possess
You will be able to have a maximum of 30 grams (about one ounce) of dried cannabis in public at any time.
You will be able to grow up to four plants per residence (not per person).
Rules for the workplace
Ontario currently has strict rules in place to make sure workplaces are safe.
Consuming recreational cannabis in the workplace is illegal and will continue to be after legalization on October 17, 2018.
Employers (and supervisors):
need to know the rules for medical cannabis
will be required to address workplace hazards, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA)
Employees and workers:
who are unable or unfit to work safely could be a hazard to themselves or to others in the workplace
have a duty to perform work safely and to report any hazards to their supervisor or employer under the OHSA
Medical cannabis is subject to different rules than recreational cannabis. The production and sale of medical cannabis is regulated exclusively by the federal government.
If a health care professional has already authorized you to use cannabis for medical reasons, your access will not change when recreational cannabis is legal.
The only way to purchase medical cannabis is from:
a federally licensed producer online
by written order
over the phone and delivered by secure mail
You can also receive a licence from Health Canada to grow medical cannabis on your own, or designate someone else to grow it on your behalf.
What you said
Ontario consulted extensively to inform the approach to the legalization of cannabis, including with:
other jurisdictions that already legalized cannabis
public health experts
business and consumer groups
In addition, Ontarians could share their views on legalization in a survey.
Some key results from the survey that informed the plan included:
86% of people said they support a minimum age of 19
74% believe there should be restrictions on where cannabis can be consumed
61% of respondents agreed that drug-impaired driving penalties should be stricter
69% believe that keeping cannabis out of the hands of youth is important