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Ontario Cannabis Stores Opening April 1

The Ontario government is scheduled to roll out their private cannabis retail stores on April 1, 2019, making it the second-last province or territory–next to Nunavut–to have bricks-and-mortar cannabis stores.

Here’s what to expect when cannabis stores open across Ontario this spring.

Where will Stores be Located?

Out of the province’s 414 municipalities, 77 have opted out of marijuana retail. The first wave of stores is limited to cities with a population of 50,000 or more. Ontario will start off with only 25 stores distributed among five regions: Toronto, Greater Toronto, Western Ontario, Eastern Ontario and Northern Ontario.

Who Operates the Stores?

The first 25 stores are run by winners of the AGCO lottery. Since most winners were individuals, not corporations, some have tried to reach deals with larger companies to help open and operate their stores. It’s been reported that Nova Cannabis, High Tide, and Spiritleaf have all entered into separate agreements with lottery winners.

But given the AGCO’s strict ownership rules that bar lottery winners from changing “their applicant type, ownership and/or corporate structure in such a way that would result in a change of control”, it’s unclear if any of these agreements will survive.

How many Stores will Actually Open on April 1?

Critics doubt the full 25 stores will actually open April 1. According to the AGCO, 14 stores have passed the first application round and been approved for public notice.

Will Stores be Able to Sell Online?

On January 31, the AGCO announced it will prohibit private cannabis stores from offering online retail options to consumers. This decision is viewed by many as another mistake in Ontario’s cannabis retail framework.

Cannabis Retailer delved deeper into the Ontario cannabis retail framework with Ranjeev Dhillon, Partner and Co-Lead of the National Cannabis Group at McCarthy Tétrault LLP. Read the article here.