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Ontarians might not get their hands on legal weed on October 17th

“There’s no inherent right that we have to have cannabis possession on that day.”

Cannabis will be legal in Canada come October 17th, but that doesn’t mean users in Ontario will necessarily be able to have it in their possession on that day.

For the first six months of legalization, people in the province will only be able to buy their legal supply through the government’s online store.

But since cannabis products bought from the Ontario Cannabis Store’s website will be shipped through the mail, it remains unclear whether consumers in the country’s most populous province will have legal cannabis in their possession on October 17th, opening day of Canada’s recreational market. The might have to wait a couple days for it to arrive in the mail.


Some cannabis industry insiders say there are ways the Ontario Cannabis Store could ensure that consumers are able to get their hands on legal cannabis in time for legalization.

“I think they would have some sort of agreement with Canada Post to do same-day delivery in as much of Ontario as possible on day one given the amount of shipments that will probably go out that day,” Deepak Anand, vice president of government relations at consulting firm Cannabis Compliance Inc, told VICE News in an interview.

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Anand added that many provincial governments don’t seem to be aware that the federal government’s Cannabis Act on recreational cannabis sales, that received Royal Assent in June, allows for provinces to get cannabis on store shelves ahead of legalization as needed — something that is necessary if consumers are to get the substance in time.

“Most provinces are waiting until the 17th to be able to bring product into their inventories and then bring it onto the shelves. But from a federal perspective, these things have been thought through,” he explained. Another example of this is how the federal government has allowed licensed cannabis producers to make pre-rolled joints and capsules ahead of the October deadline, something they were not allowed to do under the previous medical cannabis regime.


Ontario will eventually allow private cannabis sales, but that won’t come into effect until April, putting the province in “an interesting position” on actual legalization day, according to Anand. “Assuming they don’t have agreements with Canada Post in place, then yes, people will be waiting a couple of days.”

An Ontario Cannabis Store spokesperson told VICE News in an email that "pre-order will not be available prior to October 17, 2018," and the OCS is still “finalizing our delivery partner and will update you on delivery timelines once that comes to a close.”

A Canada Post spokesperson redirected questions from VICE News to the Ontario Cannabis Store.

On the issue of same-day delivery on legalization day, Trina Fraser, a cannabis lawyer with Ottawa firm Brazeau, told VICE News that’s probably not something that’s a high priority for the government.

I don’t expect that the OCS is going to go out of its way to ensure people have cannabis in their hands on October 17th. I don't think they care that much,” Fraser told VICE News. “There’s no inherent right that we have to have cannabis possession on that day.”

In addition to only being able to purchase legal cannabis online for the first few months, Ontario is one of the only jurisdictions that has banned the public consumption of cannabis. Fraser expects there to be gatherings of cannabis consumers across the province on the first day of legalization, many of whom will have likely purchased from the illicit market.

Even though police will have discretion to slap public users with fines regardless of where the cannabis comes from, Fraser predicts there will likely be some leniency.

“I suspect there will be some latitude given as there is on 4/20,” she said. “I don’t think the optics of someone going to Parliament Hill to celebrate legalization and then getting slapped with a ticket looks very good.”

What will happen after that, however, is anybody’s guess.

Cover Image: VICE.