Plans have changed for pot stores in Ontario. The provincial government has announced that Ontario will only see 25 physical retail cannabis stores across the province in 2019, opposed to the previously-announced open-market system. Stores are set to open in April.

PC Finance Minister Vic Fedeli has announced that the phase-based approach is due to supply issues with cannabis. The PC’s cite that other provinces have already had to close down or limit the hours of retail cannabis stores, due to the cannabis supply issues.

Fedeli added that physical stores – who are now able to apply for a licence – will be awarded the licence through a lottery system. Licenses for managing staff and the business range from $750 to $6,000. 

“The Liberal plan to open just 40 cannabis storefronts was a disaster waiting to happen — an open invitation to the illegal cannabis market to operate in Ontario,” said deputy leader of the Ontario NDP, Sara Singh last week.

“Doug Ford’s change of plan to restrict the number of cannabis stores to just 25 is going to make that problem so much worse. People have been failed in the roll-out of legal recreational cannabis.”

Under former Premier Kathleen Wynne, the Liberals were aiming to open 40 government-owned cannabis stores on July 1, 2018 – before legalization was pushed back to October. By 2020, the Liberals said that they would have opened 150 stores.

City councils in Kenora and Dryden have both approved allowing retail stores to open in the new year, if any local business owners receive a licence.

Approved cannabis retail stores will be subject to a number of regulations. They include: being a minimum distance of 150 metres away from any school, nobody under the age of 19 will be allowed to enter, anyone with any cannabis-related criminal offences or connections with organized crime on their record may be denied an application, be tax-compliant with the government, the stores must be located in areas zoned for retail, and all staff will need to undertake specific training. 

Council and the public will be consulted before the application can be approved, to ensure that no issues with the proposed location will arise. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario will provide a 15-day window for public consultations per proposed site. 

If the province's excise duty revenues exceed $100 million in the first two years following legalization, the revenue will be shared 50/50 with participating municipalities.

For more information:
Council will allow cannabis stores
Kenora Council supporting cannabis retail stores in the city

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