Backgrounder: Consumption, Sale & Enforcement Related to Cannabis in Toronto
Updated: November 19, 2018
As of 12:01 a.m., October 17, 2018, residents could legally purchase cannabis online through the provincially-operated Ontario Cannabis Store. Retail cannabis stores in Toronto continue to be in violation of City bylaws, the criminal code and the new provincial Cannabis Act.
The City’s enforcement actions continue in partnership with the Toronto Police Service. All illegal cannabis storefront locations across the city are attended daily to monitor compliance. Toronto Police Service has been issuing charges under the Cannabis Act.
Any stores that remain open are contravening both federal and provincial laws and will face the appropriate enforcement action. Information gathered will be provided to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) as the licensing body for the new retail cannabis storefront model.
Under the new provincial Cannabis Act there are new enforcement powers, including the issuance of interim closure orders. The legislation also comes with significant fines for anyone convicted of violation against the Cannabis Act. This includes any landlords or property owners who allow these illegal stores to remain open on their properties. Penalties for anyone convicted of violating the Cannabis Act include fines of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment for up to two years for an individual. A corporation may face a minimum fine of $25,000 up to a maximum of $1,000,000. Source: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/17c26#BK7
The Province has indicated that municipalities must advise of their intention to opt-out of allowing retail stores by January 22, 2019. A report dealing with this matter will be presented as early as possible within this next term of Toronto City Council for Council to make its decision on this issue.
Private retail sales are expected to launch on April 1, 2019. The AGCO is responsible for regulating and licensing private cannabis retail storefronts. Municipalities are not permitted to have licensing bylaws for cannabis stores nor can they pass zoning bylaws that distinguish cannabis retail from other forms of retail. However, a retail store location must conform to the City’s zoning bylaw, meaning that a provincially-licenced store cannot operate from a location that is not zoned for retail sales/stores.
Information about applying for a licence to operate a legal retail storefront can be found here: https://www.agco.ca/cannabis/private-retail-licensing-and-regulation.
As of October 17, 2018, individuals 19 and older are able to legally grow a maximum of four cannabis plants per household, regardless of the number of residents within the household. Any household growing more than the permitted number of plants will be in violation of the Federal Cannabis Act.
More information is available on the Ministry of the Attorney General’s website: http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/cannabis/
If a resident has a concern about the number of plants at a specific residence they should contact Toronto Police at 416-808-2222.
Consumption of Cannabis in Public Spaces
The Province has set out rules for the use of both recreational and medical cannabis: https://www.ontario.ca/page/cannabis-legalization#section-2. This site notes that: “Additional restrictions on smoking and vaping may exist in municipal bylaws, lease agreements, and the policies of employers and property owners.”
Toronto Public Health’s Healthy Environments Enforcement Officers ensure compliance with both the municipal smoking bylaw, Municipal Code Chapter 709-Smoking, and the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017: https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/health-wellness-care/health-programs-advice/live-tobacco-free/second-hand-smoke-and-the-law/smoke-free-laws/. The Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 came into force on October 17, 2018. This Act regulates the use of tobacco, vapour products, and cannabis.
The City has added restrictions on tobacco smoking outdoors, around entrances, around certain parks amenities and on public squares that do not fall under the new Smoke-Free Ontario legislation.
Toronto Public Health continues to act in accordance within the existing legislative authority to enhance public health and public safety and adapt the approach as required.
Up-to-date information can be found at: http://www.toronto.ca/health.
The Municipal Licensing & Standards division will continue to enforce Municipal Code Chapter 608, Parks, to prohibit smoking in and around certain facilities within City parks.
The Parks Bylaw does not specify the types of material a person is prohibited from smoking in certain areas. It defines: “SMOKE or SMOKING – Includes the carrying of a lighted cigar or cigarette, pipe or any other lighted smoking material.”
Link to bylaw: https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/municode/1184_608.pdf
Residents with concerns about smoking in City parks, are advised to call 311.
Consumption of Cannabis in Multi-unit Residential Buildings
Municipalities do not have the authority to prohibit or ban smoking in private residential units. Landlords, condo boards and co-op boards in Ontario have the right to ban smoking in all or part of a building, including indoor units and outdoor patios and balconies.
While landlords cannot change existing tenancy agreements in apartment buildings, they can include a non-smoking clause in new agreements.
Condominium boards and landlords may create their own policies in regards to smoking, including cannabis. The City does not collect data on this. Information as per Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing: http://www.mah.gov.on.ca/Page10256.aspx
Sponsorship Agreements with Cannabis Companies
City Divisions and Agencies will not allow advertising or sponsorship (including offers to raise awareness or educate the public about cannabis) from any cannabis or cannabis-related businesses for any City-owned property, space or asset (including parks, squares, community centres, events, etc.).
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Media contact: Jennifer Wing, Strategic Communications, 416-397-5313, Jennifer.Wing@toronto.ca