TORONTO — Ontario is considering allowing cannabis lounges and cafes as it moves toward an open cannabis market.
The government is consulting on the possibility of “consumption venues” as well as special occasion permits that would apply to outdoor festivals and concerts.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario says it has received more than 700 applications for retail operator licences.
The Progressive Conservative government has said its ultimate goal is an open market, but a supply shortage forced it to start with a limited lottery system for retail licences.
The Tories say the latest consultation is to inform potential decisions about a future open market, and no changes to the cannabis framework are expected at this time.
Attorney General Doug Downey says the province is dedicated to allowing the private sector to build a safe and convenient retail system to combat the illegal market.
“Ontario continues to take a responsible approach to cannabis retail sales across Ontario, allowing private sector businesses to build a safe and convenient retail system to combat the illegal market while keeping our kids and communities safe,” said Attorney General Doug Downey. “We are asking Ontarians to share their feedback as we explore certain expanded cannabis-related business opportunities as part of our responsible approach to protecting families and communities. What we hear from the public and expert groups will help to inform possible next steps.”
The online consultation asks the public, businesses, health and other stakeholders to comment on potential new cannabis opportunities, including consumption venues and special occasion permits for events such as outdoor festivals and concerts. The government will also meet with key groups, including industry representatives, public health and safety organizations, education stakeholders and Indigenous representatives, to ensure their expertise and advice help to inform next steps.
People interested in participating in the consultations can submit their feedback online by visiting the Ontario Regulatory Registry.