July 3, 2019 – The Government of Ontario has officially announced plans to move forward with the second round of cannabis retail store allocations. In support of this announcement, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has released the pre-qualification requirements, application process and timelines for those who are interested in applying for one of the 50 new cannabis retail store authorizations. Of the 50 new stores, 42 will be allocated by lottery and 8 will be available for stores on First Nations reserves.
For this next phase, the government has established new pre-qualification requirements that will streamline the licensing process with the AGCO and help ensure the readiness of cannabis retail operator licence applicants. Prospective retailers will need to demonstrate that they have secured appropriate retail space that could be used as a cannabis retail store and that they have access to sufficient capital required to open a cannabis retail store.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the announcement:
- Of the 50 new cannabis retail stores being licensed, the government is allocating 8 stores to retailers who wish to operate on a First Nations reserve, and the remaining 42 stores allocated as follows:
- East Region: 7 stores
- GTA Region: 6 stores
- Toronto Region: 13 stores
- West Region: 11 stores
- North Region: One (1) store in each of the following cities: Kenora, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay and Timmins
- To participate in the lottery, applicants will need to submit an expression of interest (EOI) between August 7, 2019 at 12:01 AM and August 9 at 8:00 PM. Applicants may separately submit up to one EOI application per region. For the North Region, applicants may only apply for one of the five cities listed within that Region.
- Applicants who wish to participate in this lottery must meet pre-qualification criteria including:
- Confirmation from a bank or credit union that the applicant has the financial capacity to obtain $250,000 in Cash or Cash Equivalents (e.g. bonds, other short-term investments)
- Confirmation from a bank or credit union that the applicant can obtain a Standby Letter of Credit in the amount of $50,000 within five business days of being notified of their selection by the Registrar
- Confirmation that the applicant has secured a suitable retail space, including its address, which will be available to them for operating a cannabis retail store no later than October 2019
- The draw will take place on August 20, 2019 and the AGCO intends to publish the results of the lottery, including the selected store locations, on its website within 24 hours of the lottery draw. Once notified of their selection in the lottery, applicants will be notified that they may apply for their Retail Operator Licence and Retail Store Authorization and will be required to do so within five business days.
- Separate from the lottery process, on July 31, 2019 at 9:00 AM, the AGCO will begin accepting applications from any applicant who has received Band Council approval to operate a store on its First Nations reserve. Eight such store authorizations will be available, on a first come, first served basis.
It is anticipated that stores will begin to open in October 2019, as they become ready. Detailed pre-qualification requirements and all application process and lottery timelines are available on the AGCO website.
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