By Perry Lefko

Mississauga and Brampton are among the 14 cities the Government of Ontario has identified as the initial 14 provincial municipalities that will have stand-alone cannabis stores by July 2018.

The Ministry of Finance and the Liquor Control Board of Ontario announced on November 3 where recreational marijuana will be sold.

The news was the latest announcement as part of the federal government’s plan in April 2016 to legalize the sale of cannabis by July 2017. The provinces were assigned the task of forming their own distribution system.

In addition to Mississauga and Brampton, the other municipalities include: Barrie, Hamilton, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Ottawa, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Vaughan and Windsor.

The announcement said that over the coming weeks, staff from the Ministry of Finance and the LCBO will meet with staff at the identified municipalities to discuss the guidelines and process for citing stores and local interests. Forty stores will be included in the initial launch of selling cannabis.

“The guidelines will achieve our objectives of protecting youth by ensuring stores are not in close proximity to schools, while providing access within communities and addressing the illegal market,” the news release said. “As part of the engagement with municipalities, when a specific store site is identified, a public notice will be posted on the Ontario government’s website and at the physical site. The public will have the opportunity to submit questions and comments on the intended site before it is confirmed.”

Additional municipalities intended for stores by July 2018 will also be identified. Consumers in all regions of Ontario will have access to cannabis through an online channel.

Forty stores will be the first outlets of what are scheduled to be 150 stand-alone stores by 2020.

The Ontario government set 19 as the minimum age for purchasing marijuana from LCBO stores.

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