Only 10 of the 25 Ontario Cannabis Lottery winners completed the licensing process for April 1st deadline

Published Apr 2, 2019 11:06 a.m. ET
AP Photo/Morgan Lee

When marijuana legalization was signed into Canadian law, there was a policy introduced that granted each province the ability to regulate their cannabis industry. Included were traveling restrictions, growing regulations, marijuana dispensaries licensing, and public consumption laws. Though most regions went ahead with franchised and smaller vendors, who were approved to open on October 17, of 2018.Ontario chose to wait until a more thought out plan was put in place to govern these sorts of establishments. At the same time, they also publicly announced an offer to black market marijuana dispensaries which included the ability to obtain legal licensing once cannabis storefronts were rolled out. The only requirement to accept the offer was that they ceased all production and sales before pot became legal in October of 2018.

Many vendors compiled and awaited official licensing, but unfortunately, the change to a Conservative government backed out of Liberal promises. Instead, all Ontarians were being offered the chance to participate in an official cannabis vendor license lottery which would grant 25 winners the opportunity to open marijuana dispensaries within the province. There were very few restrictions which residents found concerning considering the incredibly short time frame these individuals would have to open. The only way to obtain legal marijuana in Ontario is through the OCS website which takes a few days to ship with very few options to choose from, leaving both medical and recreational consumers frustrated.

The Ontario Cannabis Lottery

The lottery received thousands of submissions within the first few days of applications being accepted. Lottery winners were subjected to a $6000 application acceptance fee and had to provide a $50 000 line of credit to proceed. All 25 went ahead and applied, but the process of obtaining licensing is a bit trickier than simply having your name drawn. Winners would have to sign a contract to open by April 1st or pay fines of up to $12 500. They would also need to find a location, hold a 15 day public consultation on the locations opening, and be approved. Only then could they hire employees, find out product prices, and set up shop. All of this was required from all participants with a deadline of April 1 of 2019.

The results

So far out of the 25 Ontario Cannabis Lottery winners, only a fraction appear to be running on time to be open for April 1st. Only ten of them have successfully been granted their licensing, meaning that fifteen vendors have yet to get to the point in the process required to be open as promised. Out of those remaining fifteen, ten have completed the 15-day public consultation phase, and two of the remaining five will not be finishedwith their consultations until 2-3 days after April 1st. As of now, at least two marijuana dispensaries will not have enough time to complete the process required before the deadline.

Though no one can say for sure that any of even the most advanced applicants will be ready in time, it’s certainly looking like Ontarians will be getting even fewer marijuana dispensaries than they were originally promised. With April first only a few days away, the world is watching as the results unfold to show whether or not the Ontario Cannabis Lottery was a success or a complete failure. So far, it’s looking like the latter, but only time will reveal the true results of such a unique and flawed process to introduce the cannabis industry to Canada.

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