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The Ontario government announced Thursday that it is opening the licensing system for cannabis retail stores.

Aspiring retailers will be allowed to apply for licences on a first-come, first-served basis similar to what is available in Alberta.

Ontario to scrap lottery, open up cannabis retail system

Here are the details of the government’s plan:
  • “By the end of the year we’ll probably have an aggregate total of 250, in that range, and then we’ll see what the market is doing,” Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey told Cannabis Professional’s Mark Rendell.
  • The provincial government announced several other changes to the system, including a “farmgate” provision that will allow cannabis growers to open a store at one of their growing sites, and an increase on ownership caps of retail stores by licensed producers. Producers will now be able to hold 25 per cent stakes in retail store companies, up from 10 per cent.
  • The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) will begin accepting operator licence applications from prospective retailers on January 6, 2020, followed by store authorization applications on March 2, 2020. Store authorizations from this open application process are expected to be issued beginning in April, at an initial rate of approximately 20 per month;
  • The province will remove the temporary cap on the number of private cannabis stores in the province and eliminate pre-qualification requirements for prospective retailers;
  • Will phase-in limits on the number of authorized stores a licence holder can have, “to ensure fair access for retailers while creating medium and long-term market certainty.”;
  • Will enable retailers to sell additional cannabis-related items such as cannabis-related magazines and cookbooks;
  • Starting Aug. 31, 2019, retail operators may own a maximum of 10 cannabis stores, increasing to 30 in September 2020 and 75 in September 2021;
  • Proposed cannabis stores selected through the second lottery and the First Nations first come, first served allocation will continue the licensing and authorization process. Some of those stores will open this month, the government said.
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