Have Your Say IconNow that cannabis is legal in Canada, recreational cannabis is available in Ontario to individuals 19 years of age and older only online through the Ontario Cannabis Store. Private sector cannabis stores may be available in communities as early as April 1, 2019.

Municipalities in Ontario have a one-time window to make a decision about whether to “opt out” of allowing private sector cannabis retail stores within the boundaries of their community. 

Thank you for participating in our online survey.  The survey is now closed. 

Learn more about opting out and opting in:

 Opt out - Prohibit private cannabis retail stores
  • City Council must pass a resolution to opt out and provide it to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario by Jan. 22, 2019. 
  • City Council can reverse their decision at a later date, but will then be unable to opt out in the future.
  • If City Council opts out, no cannabis retail store authorizations will be issued in Thunder Bay, therefore there will be no legal cannabis storefronts in the city.
  • Individuals who are 19 years of age and older will be able to continue to legally purchase recreational cannabis through the Ontario Cannabis Store online, or they can purchase cannabis at a retail store in a community that has not opted out.
  • Initial funding from the province will be distributed to municipalities in January 2019 on a per-household basis. The City of Thunder Bay is expected to receive at least $129,922. If City Council opts out, the second installment in March 2019 will be capped at $5,000. The municipality will only be able to use these funds for costs related to the transition of legalization (i.e., enforcement, emergency services, etc.).
  • If City Council opts out, the municipality would not be eligible to receive a share in the federal excise duty.
  • The province has set aside $10 million in funding for “unforeseen circumstances” and priority to access these funds would go to municipalities that have not opted out by the Jan. 22, 2019 deadline.
 Opt in - Allow private cannabis retail stores
  • If City Council does not pass a resolution to opt out by Jan. 22, 2019, they are automatically deemed to have opted in and this decision is final.
  • The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario will be responsible for issuing a licence to operate a cannabis retail store, a licence for a location of a storefront, as well as a licence to manage a cannabis retail store.
  • The province has identified a buffer-zone of, at minimum, 150 metres between a cannabis retail store and a school.
  • The municipality will not be able to pass by-laws to create restrictions specific to cannabis retail stores, it cannot limit the number of cannabis stores in Thunder Bay, and it cannot create separate business licensing regulations for cannabis retail stores.
  • The province will post a notice to the public on the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) website and place a notice on the proposed cannabis store location for 15 days. During that time, the municipality and residents will be able to provide a written submission to the AGCO about any concerns they have with the retail location. The AGCO may refuse to authorize the store if it is in the public interest to do so. The following are the areas of “public interest” the AGCO can consider, as defined by the regulations:
       - Public health and safety;
       - Protecting youth and restricting their access to cannabis; and,
       - Preventing illegal activities in relation to cannabis.
  • If City Council opts in by Jan. 22, 2019, they will be eligible for a second installment of funds in March 2019 expected to be at least $129,922. The municipality will only be able to use these funds for costs related to the transition of legalization (i.e., enforcement, emergency services, etc.).
  • If the province’s portion of federal excise taxes on recreational cannabis exceeds $100 million, the province will provide 50% of the surplus to municipalities who did not opt out as of Jan. 22, 2019.

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