The Ontario government is considering selling marijuana for between $8 and $13 per gram when the drug becomes legal by July 2018.
Finance Minister Charles Sousa said it’s important to strike a balance between competing with black market prices and discouraging use among young people.
“We want to keep the black market, the illicit market, under control,” said Sousa. “But at the same time we don’t want a price that’s too low that encourages greater use and we’re trying to protect, especially young people, from the excessive use of marijuana.”
Opposition leader Patrick Brown and NDP leader Andrea Horwath say finding a delicate balance when it comes to pricing will be key.
“If the price is not competitive, the black market will continue to be successful in the province of Ontario,” was Brown’s blunt assessment.
“I don’t know what the government’s plans are but it seems to me that organized crime versus social responsibility is the sweet spot you’ve got to find,” said Horwath.
Sousa said the Ontario government plans to have about 40 or so stores up and running to sell legal marijuana in time for the federal government’s 2018 deadline. He adds there are plans to expand to 80 stores by the end of next year and up to 150 by 2020.
On Monday, the Ontario government announced it will bring in tough new penalties for drug-impaired drivers that includes zero tolerance for youths aged 21 and under, novice drivers and all commercial drivers. Fines would also increase, anywhere from $250 to $450.