By Agence France-Presse
Canada’s most populous province announced plans Friday to begin sales of marijuana in government-regulated shops and over the internet by mid 2018 when recreational use of the drug becomes legal.
Ontario’s Justice Minister Yasir Naqvi said a dozen shops will be open on July 1, 2018 and the number will grow to 150 by 2020.
Online distribution will also be available across the province, the local government said in a statement.
Those sales will require ID checks, signatures on delivery, and no packages will be left unattended at the door.
“As we build up a safe, responsible channel for recreational cannabis, our twin goal will be stopping the sale of illegal, unregulated, and unsafe cannabis,” Naqvi said at a press conference in Toronto.
Ontario is home to 14 million of Canada’s 36 million inhabitants. Each of the country’s 10 provinces and three territories must decide how to distribute the drug to avoid illegal trafficking.
Store sales in Ontario will be over-the-counter only, and ID will be required to verify customers are aged over 19 — which is also the legal drinking age in Ontario.
Mr Naqvi added that setting the legal age at 19 will protect young people by allowing police to confiscate cannabis held by minors — but without giving them a criminal record.
In most Canadian provinces and territories, networks of liquor stores are also controlled by the government.
Under the legalization, adults will be allowed to cultivate four plants each and to possess up to 30 grams of the weed in public places.