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Ontario to ban cannabis in homes offering childcare, increase retail stores for operators

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Ontario is banning the growing of cannabis in homes offering childcare services while increasing the number of stores retailers can operate in the province.

The changes will be proposed in a new omnibus bill entitled the Enhancing Justice Act on Thursday.

The bill, if passed, will make it illegal to cultivate recreational cannabis in homes that offer childcare services.

“We find this deeply unsettling and inappropriate. And quite frankly, I never imagined we'd even have to legislate this,” Attorney General Doug Downey told reporters.

Downey could not provide examples of incidents in which cannabis was found in a home offering childcare services, instead saying “this came up because there were issues.”

“It's not a judgment on the quality childcare or on the childcare facilities themselves. It's simply an exposure issue. We just don't want it commingling.”

At the same time, the legislation will increase the number of storefronts a cannabis operator can manage in Ontario.

Previous regulations capped the number of stores per operator at 75, while legislating the stand-alone stores must be at least 150 metres away from schools. Individuals under the age of 19 are not allowed inside.

The new bill will now allow licensed cannabis retailers to operate up to 150 storefronts.

Officials say this is to “respond to the growth of the legal cannabis retail market and combat illegal cannabis stores.”

Canada legalized recreational marijuana five years ago this October. Since then, retailers have reported intense competition, which has pushed some to sell their business.

There are more than 1,700 cannabis stores across the province authorized to be open by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. Another 56 applications are in progress.

With files from the Canadian Press

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