Apr 12, 2019
Ontario finance minister blasts Trudeau’s cannabis rollout ‘blunder’
Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli blasts Trudeau's cannabis rollout
Ontario’s finance minister is taking aim at how the federal government handled the rollout of recreational cannabis in Canada, blasting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for going ahead with legalization without enough supply.
“We’re disappointed in the federal government. Here they are, they missed their legalization of cannabis in July. They went ahead and legalized it Oct. 17 without the proper supply,” Vic Fedeli told BNN Bloomberg’s Greg Bonnell after tabling the Progressive Conservatives’ first provincial budget since coming into power.
Provinces have been grappling with supply shortages since cannabis became legal in the fall, and some industry experts have said the supply issues could persist for years. Fedeli noted the federal government controls the country’s supply levels and Ontario has only allowed enough licenses to match the amount of marijuana available.
In December, Trudeau acknowledged the supply issues, calling it the biggest challenge of the legalization process. He promised to resolve the shortages this year.
“This was just a blunder and a failure on their part,” Fedeli said. “So we’ve done the prudent thing, thankfully, in Ontario, and we’ve gone ahead and prepared the licensing for 25 facilities because that’s the maximum amount of cannabis we can guarantee supply for.
“We’ve done right by the business community.”
Ontario only allowed online sales of legal marijuana through the provincially-owned Online Cannabis Store website, waiting until April 1 to allow bricks-and-mortar cannabis stores to open in the province in an effort to not rush the process.
But only 10 shops opened that day, instead of the 25 the provincial government said would be in business. The delay was blamed on regulatory and licensing issues.
Doug Ford’s government unveiled plans in the budget to introduce new measures to vet applicants when it is ready to start awarding new retail pot licences, in a bid to help stamp out illicit sales.
Fedeli told BNN Bloomberg the province will lift its 25-license limit once more supply becomes available.
“The moment we know that the federal government has allowed more supply in the marketplace, we’ll grab as much as we can and we’ll continue to put more licences out,” he said. “We want to have an open system; we want to have as many stores open as the market can bear.”