Fines of $25,000 If Cannabis Retail Licence Store Not Open by April 30 – LPC
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) announced the first three cannabis retail licences issued in Ontario on Thursday. The Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. in Toronto, The Niagara Herbalist in St. Catharines, and Central Cannabis in London are all confirmed locations. They will be able to sell cannabis starting April 1, 2019. Any cannabis retail store that won a seller licence in Ontario must be open by April 30 or face a $25,000 fine.
Toronto Councillor Joe Cressy, who represents the area where The Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. will open, said cannabis needs to be available.
“You can’t legalize a substance and then hide it so you can’t access it otherwise,” Cressy said. “That fuels a black market, which is what we are trying to avoid.”
On the other hand, many questioned shutting down popular neighbourhood cannabis cafés, illegal or not.
Cannabis Retail Licences Lottery Frustrating, Say Some – LPC
It’s been part of a frustrating road in Ontario to open bricks-and-mortar cannabis retail stores. At first, Ontarians could only get legal cannabis online from the government-run Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS). In December 2018, the Ontario government announced it would have a lottery for 25 cannabis retail licences. In late February 2019, that retail cannabis licence structure started to become apparent. There were several announcements about licensing agreements between cannabis retail licence holders and licensed producers.
Across the street from cannabis retail licence winner The Hunny Pot is Friendly Stranger, a cannabis culture shop. Its owner, Robin Ellins, entered the Ontario cannabis lottery, but didn’t get a licence.
“It’s frustrating… the people who got to open stores put $75 in a hat and got drawn out whether they had any experience or not,” he said.
However, Ellins is looking at the bright side.
“At least now instead of saying, ‘No, there is nowhere you can get it except for online…’ you can now go across the street,” Ellins said.
In early February 2019, the Ontario government announced a responsible cannabis sales certification program call CannSell. All retail cannabis licence owners, managers, and employees selling cannabis in Ontario are required to get their CannSell certification. It is similar to the province’s Smart Serve certification for those serving alcohol.
The cannabis retail licences are divided regionally with five going to southeastern Ontario, seven in southwestern Ontario, two in Northern Ontario, six in the GTA, and five in Toronto itself.
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