Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives changed course on Cannabis after concluding that the previous government’s approach was “incapable of seriously competing with the illegal market” according to Attorney General Caroline Mulroney.

Mulroney’s criticism of the previous government's plan for the sale of pot came during a speech to the Empire Club of Canada, in which she declared that the province is “ready” for cannabis legalization on October 17th.

The publicly owned-and-operated retail model proposed by the former Liberal government would have left communities “more vulnerable” and susceptible to the underground market, Mulroney said.

The underground market and the demand for Cannabis is “strong” Mulroney noted.

Instead, the PCs chose to go with a public-private model with the Ontario Cannabis Store becoming the exclusive online seller, while an unlimited number of private pot shops will be licensed by the Alcohol and Gaming commission.

But that wasn’t the only option on the table.

Mulroney revealed that a variety of private retail models were examined, including franchises and contracts, but the government determined a “robust licensing framework” was the best way to sell legal weed.

Mulroney also said the “one size fits all” approach where the government handpicked retail locations wouldn’t have worked because municipalities were asking the province to be “flexible.”

Cannabis Advertising Blitz

The province will also embark on an advertising blitz to “educate and communicate” as the Ford government tweaks cannabis laws ahead of legalization.

The awareness campaign will be broadcast on television, social media and across university and college campuses with an emphasis on social responsibility.

“These ads do not promote cannabis use or the cannabis market” Mulroney told the Bay St crowd.

Instead the ads will focus on short and long term health and addiction concerns while reassuring residents about how “children, communities and roads will be protected.”

As of Oct. 17, anyone over the age of 19 will be able to possess up to 30 grams of pot, and own up to four plants.

Marijuana was legalized by the federal government, but each province was able to create its own rules for the sale and distribution of the product.