10/27/2017 07:32 EDT | Updated 10/27/2017 08:01 EDT

Ontario government takes first steps to roll out LCBO-run cannabis store

TORONTO — Municipalities in Ontario will find out in the coming weeks if a provincially run cannabis store could be located in their community.

In a letter sent to the province's municipalities today, Finance Minister Charles Sousa says Ontario's store roll out aims to achieve the right geographic distribution across the province and to reduce the number of illegal marijuana dispensaries that have opened since the federal government announced it would legalize marijuana next summer.

The Ontario government says none of the retail stores will be located near schools.

The province plans to set up approximately 150 standalone shops — run by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario — by 2020.

The first wave of 40 stores will open in 2018 with that number rising to 80 stores by July 2019.

Ontario was the first province to announce a detailed plan to sell and distribute recreational marijuana and will set the legal age to purchase it at 19.