Cannabis users rejoice: the Ontario government has announced a second lottery to bring 50 more cannabis stores online in the province.
Finance Minister Rod Phillips and Attorney General Doug Downey made the announcement today.
A second lottery will be held for 42 private cannabis retail stores across the province, as well as a further eight store fronts for First Nations communities. Interested parties will be able to submit an expression of interest form online to the AGCO this summer.
For First Nations, a separate process has been set up on a first come, first served basis. The government said it continues to “engage with First Nations interested in developing their own approaches to cannabis to identify how the government can best support efforts by these communities to promote public safety and legal access to cannabis.”
Seven stores have been approved for eastern Ontario; six for the Greater Toronto Area; 13 for Toronto, and; 11 for western Ontario.
Northern Ontario is getting five more stores, but in specific communities. In the first round, two stores were approved for the North, but both successful licence-holders chose Sudbury to open their stores, likely because it is the biggest population centre.
In the second round, stores will be opened in Kenora, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay and Timmins.
The government has tweaked the qualification process as well to make it faster, or “streamline” in the government’s wording. You may remember that some retailers — such as Anton Lucic who owns the High Life cannabis store on Marcus Drive — waited months for their licences.
“Prospective retailers must demonstrate that they have secured appropriate retail space that could be used as a cannabis retail store and that they have access to enough capital required to open a cannabis retail store,” the government said in a release. “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.”
Detailed pre-qualification requirements and all application process and lottery timelines are available on the AGCO website.
The 50 new cannabis retail stores will be authorized upon meeting all requirements and approved to open on a rolling basis, beginning in October 2019, as they conclude their supply agreements with the Ontario Cannabis Store.
To ensure the lottery and allocation process are conducted fairly, the AGCO will again employ a third-party fairness monitor.