Ontario to hold second licence lottery for cannabis stores

Lottery conducted by Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario

Ontario to hold second licence lottery for cannabis stores
One of the first bricks and mortar legal cannabis stores opened this spring (Shutterstock)

The Ontario Government will hold a second lottery round to determine the recipients of licences for new private cannabis retail stores in the province.

Up to 50 licences for new stores will be awarded — 42 will be drawn through the lottery, while eight will be located on First Nations reserves on a first-come, first-serve basis, a statement from the provincial government said.

The lottery will be conducted by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, in compliance with Ontario Regulation 468/18 under the Cannabis Licence Act of 2018. The regulation states that the AGCO must use a method for selecting applicants that does not rely on the discretion of the registrar or of any other person.

Parties interested in obtaining a cannabis retail operator licence can submit an expression of interest form online to the AGCO in summer 2019.

According to the government, it has established new pre-qualification requirements that will better screen cannabis licence applicants and streamline the licensing process with the AGCO. Prospective licence holders must prove that they have secured appropriate retail space that could be used as a cannabis retail store and that they have access to adequate capital to open and operate the store. Licensed retail stores may now be opened in any municipality regardless of population size, granted the municipality did not opt-out of the retail cannabis market.

“Despite the ongoing federal cannabis supply shortages, Ontario is taking further action to protect young people, keep our roads and communities safe and combat the illegal market in response to the federal government's decision to legalize cannabis,” said Doug Downey, Attorney General of Ontario. “While the federal supply issues persist, we cannot in good conscience issue an unlimited number of licences to businesses. A phased-in approach remains necessary.”

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