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Ontario Opens up Retail Market

The Government of Ontario has announced its move towards an open market for private cannabis retail in Ontario starting January 2020.

The government is removing the temporary cap on the number of private cannabis stores in the province and is eliminating pre-qualification requirements for prospective retailers.
Other amendments include:

  • Allowing licensed producers to open a retail store at one of their facilities.
  • Phasing in limits on the number of authorized stores a licence holder can have. Until August 31, 2020, retail operators may own a maximum of 10 cannabis stores, increasing to 30 in September 2020 and 75 in September 2021.
  • Enabling retailers to sell additional cannabis-related items such as cannabis-related magazines and cookbooks.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) will modify the application process and begin accepting retail operator licence (ROL) applications on January 6, 2020, followed by store authorization applications on March 2, 2020. Store authorizations are expected to be issued beginning in April, at an initial rate of approximately 20 per month.

The current restriction on the total number of stores (i.e. 93) and their regional distribution will be maintained until March 2. Until March 2, only applicants who were already selected and notified to apply for a ROL by the Registrar before January 6, 2020 may apply for a retail store authorization.

The Open Market will start on March 2 when the restrictions on the total number of store authorizations permitted in the province, and their regional distribution, will be revoked.

The AGCO’s website includes detailed information about the timelines and the application process including a new infographic, which highlights important information about future key dates.

Applicants who were selected in the two cannabis retail lotteries and the allocation process for stores on First Nations reserves will continue through their current processes. If eligible, the AGCO will license these applicants and authorize their stores as soon as those processes are completed.

View amendments to Ontario Regulation 468/18 under the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018.

Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores

The AGCO has also updated its website with amendments to the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores. Changes have been made to the Standards in light of updates to cannabis retail training requirements (i.e. the new Cannsell module on edibles) and of the recent legislative changes that allow authorized retail stores to sell cannabis products online or over the phone for pick-up by customers in-store (i.e. “click and collect”).

Photo courtesy of Canna Cabana.