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Ontario Phasing in Retail Licences

Citing the severe supply shortages in the industry and the desire to protect the interests of private retailers, Ontario has decided to phase in private cannabis retail stores and initially issue only 25 licences in April 2019. The Honourable Caroline Mulroney, Attorney General and the Honourable Vic Fedeli, Minister of Finance explain, “To ensure a fair and transparent process, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) will implement a lottery system to determine who is eligible for the initial licences to legally operate a store in Ontario. All interested parties will be able to submit an expression of interest form online to the AGCO from January 7 to January 9, 2019. The expressions of interest will be put into a lottery pool for a draw. The draw will be conducted on January 11, 2019, with the results to be posted on the AGCO’s website within 24 hours.

The lottery process will be overseen by a third-party fairness monitor to ensure equality and transparency in the treatment of the expressions of interest, as well as an appropriate distribution of stores in each region of the province, which is set out in the regulation. Further details on the lottery system will be available on the AGCO website.

The OCS continues to work closely with federally licensed producers to monitor the availability of supply and to secure supply for Ontario, including through regular product calls and frequent visits to producer facilities. The lottery is going to be a temporary model for issuing private retail licences. When Ontario has determined that the federal government has provided for enough reliable supply, Ontario will communicate next steps for additional private retail stores.

Our government refuses to compromise the viability of Ontario businesses. Private retailers need certainty from the federal government that there will be a reliable supply of cannabis to support their business and combat the illegal market.

We will continue to urge the federal government to take immediate action to ensure licensed producers ramp up production in order to meet the anticipated market demand for recreational cannabis.”

Photo by Janelle Hewines