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Ontario Announces Plan to License 50 More Cannabis Stores

Missed out on opening a legal cannabis retail store in Ontario the first time around?

The provincial government officially announced their plans today to license an additional 50 cannabis retail stores in Ontario, including eight on First Nations reserves.

The province hopes these new stores will be open by Oct. 1, 2019, which once again means that stores will be under a time crunch to get built and launch once licensed.

Prospective store owners will need backing from their bank: (i) a commitment to provide a $50,000 standby letter of credit and (ii) a letter of confirmation that you have the financial capacity to obtain $250,000 in cash or cash equivalents, and proof that you are in good standing.

In addition, applicants will need to confirm that they have secured a location and the type of arrangement (lease, rent, or purchase) that will serve as the legal basis of occupation in Oct. 2019.

Licensed producers and their affiliates will not be allowed to apply. While that rule was in place for the first lottery, producers and related companies found their way into the mix by licensing their brand names out to stores in ways that were compliant with the AGCO.

No word yet on whether this type of arrangement will be allowed for the second lottery, but there does not appear to be a rule explicitly prohibiting it.

This upcoming lottery has an interesting rule that wasn’t present in the first: applicants must adhere to provincial disability legislation, likely implemented to ensure wheelchair accessibility previously overlooked at certain stores.

Lottery applications will be accepted beginning in late summer 2019, starting at 12:01 a.m. Aug. 7 and ending at 8 p.m. on Aug. 9. The lucky lottery winners will be selected on Aug. 20. Like the first lottery, the fee to enter is only $75.

First Nations communities will also get the chance to have legal cannabis stores on reserves, but won’t be subject to the same rules.

Eight of the 50 licenses will be set aside for First Nations communities, granted using a separate process without the lottery procedure. Instead, First Nations applicants will be awarded licenses on a first come, first served basis. The respective Band Council must ultimately approve the location.

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Harrison Jordan

Harrison Jordan is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto and enjoys reading and writing about the regulatory affairs of cannabis in Canada and around the world.

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