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Frequently asked questions

Retail store FAQs

Council voted on Thursday, December 13 to allow private cannabis stores in Ottawa under the rules of the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

Under the new Cannabis Licence Act, 2018, Ontario municipalities that want to opt out of cannabis stores must pass a resolution by midnight on January 22, 2019. 

See also: Report on Ontario Cannabis legislation

What are the benefits of allowing cannabis stores in Ottawa?

  • Providing a legal retail market is the best option to divert sales from the illegal market and keep products out of the hands of youth.
  • Cannabis consumers will have access to regulated and quality-controlled products, clear information on products available within stores and trained staff who can answer questions.
  • Private cannabis stores will provide a significant boost to the local economy and create new opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship.
  • The City will have access to additional funding and services from the Province to offset the costs of cannabis implementation.

Where would cannabis stores be located and how would they be run?

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario is responsible for regulating and enforcing cannabis stores, including approving their locations and operations. While Council and members of the public will have the opportunity to comment on applications for cannabis stores, ultimately the commission will decide if a cannabis store can open.

Private cannabis stores may not be located within 150 metres of a school as defined in the Education Act, but are otherwise permitted in all areas zoned for retail use.

The Province has indicated that cannabis stores:

  • Must be stand-alone stores, meaning they cannot be located within a larger store.
  • Must be enclosed by walls separating it from any other commercial use or activity.
  • Cannot be entered or passed through to access any other commercial establishment or activity, other than a common area of an enclosed shopping mall.

When could cannabis stores open in Ottawa?

Cannabis stores can open on April 1, 2019.

What is the economic impact of allowing cannabis stores in Ottawa?

It is estimated that the value of the legal cannabis market in Ottawa could be between $50 million and $200 million annually, based on the Parliamentary Budget Officer’s 2016 analysis and projections. 

What is the economic impact of not allowing cannabis stores in Ottawa?

The local economy will not see any of the benefits of legalizing a market worth up to $200 million annually. By not allowing the stores, the City would lose access to the $40 million in provincial funding allocated for cannabis legalization. It is estimated the City’s portion of this funding would be approximately $2 million.

What were the results of the public consultation?

  • Between October 25 and November 7, the City commissioned EKOS Research Associates Inc. to conduct a random sample telephone survey to assess city-wide support for retail cannabis stores.
  • Public input was also collected through a voluntary survey, accessible on ottawa.ca and in City Client Service Centres. This survey attracted more than 23,000 responses, the most ever for a City survey of this kind.
  • The same questions were asked in the two surveys and were developed in partnership with EKOS Research to avoid creating bias or influencing opinions of respondents.
  • Public input gathered generally supported the presence of private cannabis retail stores in Ottawa.

What other changes in cannabis legalization are coming?

Early in 2019, we will consult with residents about the City’s smoking by-laws. Later in the year, we expect to see new regulations around edible products. Cannabis legalization is a major change in social policy and we can expect adjustments over several years. We will continue to consult with residents as we navigate this changing landscape.

What will the City do to ensure youth cannot access cannabis?

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario will enforce age requirements for buying cannabis. The Province established 19 as the minimum age, and youth under the age of 19 are not permitted inside cannabis stores. It is a criminal offence to sell cannabis to youth and the Ottawa Police Service will conduct enforcement with provincial authorities when required.

What will the City due to address crime around cannabis stores?

The City does not expect legal cannabis stores to have the same problems associated with illegal dispensaries. The Ottawa Police Service and the Criminal Intelligence Service of Ontario recommend cannabis stores as a tool to reduce organized crime and associated street crimes.

What will the City do to address cannabis odour around stores?

The City does not expect cannabis odour to be a significant issue around cannabis stores. The stores will be regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s standards and will be subject to the Building Code, Fire Code and Property Standards by-laws. Issues regarding smoking in public places, including outside of cannabis stores, will be addressed through enforcement of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act or applicable City by-laws, depending on the location.

Buying and selling cannabis

1. When will recreational cannabis be legal?

Recreational cannabis will become legal in Canada on October 17, 2018. 

The federal and provincial governments have established rules to control cannabis production, distribution, sale, possession and consumption.

2. Who can buy recreational cannabis in Ontario after it is legal?

Adults 19 years of age or older will be able to legally buy, use, possess and grow recreational cannabis.

3. How much recreational cannabis will I be allowed to possess?

You will be able to have a maximum of 30 grams (about one ounce) of cannabis in public at any time.

4. Where will I be able to buy recreational cannabis?

Adults 19 years of age or older will be able to purchase recreational cannabis for personal use online through the Ontario Cannabis Store. This will be the only legal option for purchasing recreational cannabis. 

The Government of Ontario will introduce legislation to establish a regulated private retail model for cannabis by April 1, 2019. Provincial licensing would be overseen by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.  

5. What are the rules for opening a cannabis store in Ontario?

The Government of Ontario will establish a cannabis retail model with corresponding regulations by April 1, 2019. The rules surrounding this retail model, including licensing requirements and oversight by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, are being developed.

6. What about access to cannabis for medical purposes?

Medical cannabis is subject to different rules than recreational cannabis. The federal government regulates the production and sale of medical cannabis.

If a health care professional has authorized you to use cannabis for medical reasons, your access will not change when recreational cannabis is legal.

The only legal way to purchase cannabis for medical purposes is:

  • Online from a federally licensed producer
  • By written order
  • Over the phone and delivered by secure mail

You can also receive a licence from Health Canada to grow medical cannabis on your own, or designate someone else to grow it on your behalf.

The possession limit for medical cannabis is the lesser of:

  • A 30-day supply of the authorized amount
  • 150 grams of dried marijuana
  • The equivalent amount if in another form

Smoking cannabis

1. Which laws regulate consumption of recreational cannabis?

Recreational cannabis use is regulated under the federal Cannabis Act and the provincial Cannabis Control Act, 2017.

2. Where can I smoke recreational cannabis?

In Ontario, recreational cannabis may be consumed anywhere that tobacco use is permitted, except in motor vehicles and boats.

Landlords, condominium boards and co-operative housing boards may place additional restrictions on cannabis use. Check what rules apply to your residence.

Smoking tobacco or cannabis is not permitted in:

  • City property, such as City parks, arenas, recreational centres, libraries, pools, and transit stations and buses
  • Enclosed public places, such as inside businesses, hospitals, restaurants and apartment building hallways
  • Enclosed workplaces
  • Common areas of buildings, such as hallways, laundry rooms and entertainment rooms
  • Schools, including colleges and universities
  • Hospital grounds
  • Near child care centres
  • Restaurants, bars and patios

3.  Does medical cannabis have the same use restrictions as recreational cannabis?

Yes, both medical and recreational cannabis can be consumed anywhere that tobacco use is permitted. Medical cannabis can also be consumed in controlled areas of long-term care facilities and similar places.

4.  How old do I have to be to use recreational cannabis in Ontario?

The legal age for buying and consuming recreational cannabis is 19 years old.

5.  What happens if I see someone smoking cannabis in public?

Smoking and vaping cannabis in public is allowed, with certain restrictions. Some of the places it  is not allowed:

  • City property, such as parks, arenas, recreational centres, libraries, pools
  • Enclosed public places, such as inside businesses, hospitals, restaurants, apartment building hallways
  • Enclosed workplaces
  • Common areas of buildings, such as hallways, laundry rooms, entertainment rooms
  • Schools, including colleges and universities
  • Hospital grounds
  • Near child care centres
  • Restaurants bars and patios

If someone is smoking cannabis in one of these places, call 3-1-1.

If someone is smoking cannabis on transit property or vehicles, call OC Transpo at 613-741-2478 or report online.

Cultivation for Personal Use

1. Can I grow my own cannabis plants?

Adults 19 years of age or older will be able to grow their own cannabis plants in their private residence or yard. Seeds must be purchased from the Ontario Cannabis Store.

2. How much can I grow?

Adults 19 years of age or older will be able to grow up to four cannabis plants per household (not per occupant) for personal use.

3. Does the four-plant limit apply to medical cannabis users?

Medical Cannabis users may be eligible to grow more plants, under the federal Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations.  You can get a licence from Health Canada to grow medical cannabis on your own, or designate someone else to grow it on your behalf.

Learn more about accessing cannabis for medical purposes.

Edible Cannabis Products

Will edible products be available for purchase following cannabis legalization?

Buying and selling edibles will continue to be illegal until the federal government puts regulations in place.

Beginning October 17, 2018, adults 19  older will be able to produce their own edible cannabis products for personal consumption. 

Landlords, condominium boards and co-operative housing boards may place additional restrictions on cannabis use. Inform yourself about the rules that apply in your residence.

Complaint about odour

How do I make a complaint about cannabis odour?

The City of Ottawa will not respond to complaints about cannabis odour coming from anywhere smoking cannabis is permitted.

If someone is smoking cannabis on City property, such as the grounds of a recreation centre or in a City park, call 3-1-1.

If someone is smoking cannabis on transit property, such as bus stations or on a bus, call OC Transpo at 613-741-2478 or report online.

For residents living in multi-unit buildings, contact your landlord, co-operative board or condominium board.