Just one week from the opening of the first cannabis outlets in Ontario, the Ford government is unable to say how many of the 25 stores will be ready in time to greet consumers on April 1st.
To date, 10 of the 25 stores have been licensed by the Ontario Cannabis Society.
In front of the media at Queen’s Park, Finance Minister Vic Fedeli did not want to advance on the number of shops that will be operational next week.
We can only wait and watch what happens , he said.
Vic Fedeli pointed out that some contractors still had not completed some of the administrative steps prior to an official opening.
Do not rush. I am really pleased that Ontario was the only province that took the time to do it right , the minister said, citing the supply problems that the Quebec Cannabis Society had in its early days .
On the Liberal opposition side, the slow process has been denounced since the bill was tabled in the legislature.
From the beginning, we know that the radical changes they [the Conservatives] made to the program were going to jeopardize the effect of being available as they had announced. There have been several delays so far , says Liberal MP Nathalie Des Rosiers.
The one representing the riding of Ottawa-Vanier knows that some shops will be open as of April 1 in the Ottawa area.
The member believes, however, that the limited number of 25 shops – well below the 40 that the Liberals were proposing for the first year of legalization – will not be enough to meet the demand and will lead to long queues.
I expect a chaotic situation on April 1st.
The same is true for the New Democrats who fear that the lack of supply forces consumers to buy illegally.
In fact, the government is promoting the black market rather than breaking it.
The member said she was disappointed to see entrepreneurs who were mismanaged by the Conservatives and have trouble meeting the April 1 deadline.
Salted fines for latecomers
Merchants face high penalties if they fail to open their doors as expected.
They will lose $ 12,500 on their deposit if they are not ready on April 1st. The penalties become even more salty thereafter.
Even with the opening of well-established stores, the province will continue to sell cannabis online through the Ontario Cannabis Society.
A spokesman for the company said the 25 retailers are all moving in the process, but are at different stages. According to Raymond Kahnert, it is therefore difficult to predict how many of them will obtain their license in time to open on April 1st.
We will issue licenses when we are satisfied that retailers have met all legal and regulatory requirements.