The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) will be accepting Expressions of Interest (EOIs) for cannabis retail store licenses between January 7 and 9, 2018, and the right to apply for one of the first 25 licenses will be selected from the EOIs by lottery on January 11th. The goal is to have 25 stores operational across the province by April 1, 2019.
The initial phase of licensing described above is a variance from the original proposal by the AGCO in which the province did not cap the number of applications, and additional phases of licensing are expected after the initial lottery. The initial EOI process allots the 25 licenses to 5 geographic areas, and more details about the allotments can be found in Ontario Regulation 497/18. Licensed producers and their affiliates are not permitted to apply for one of the first 25 cannabis retail licenses in Ontario. Organizations may submit EOIs in multiple jurisdictions, but each organization selected in the lottery will be permitted to apply for only one retail location.
Long-term, the province has not capped the overall number of stores that may be opened in the Ontario, but no one entity (and their affiliates) may hold more then 75 retail store licenses. Licensed producers (and their affiliates) are limited to a single retail store license, and this store must be located at the licensed facility. Central distribution will be handled exclusively by the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC), and all cannabis retail store owners must order cannabis for their stores from this entity. Online sale of recreational cannabis will be only through the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS).
Ontario has proposed a three part licensing system for cannabis retail stores and their employees that divides licensing into the following (1) A retail operator license (for the individual/business that will operate retail stores) (2) A retail store license (one required for each physical store that will be opened, and (3) A retail manager license (required for each manager of a cannabis retail store). Each of these licenses will be issued by the AGCO following a detailed application process, the practical details of which have not yet been released.
It is expected the applications will require similar disclosures to those used in Alberta and British Columbia, including information about the business; all involved individuals’ financial and criminal histories; any links to licensed producers (whose involvement is limited to 9.9%); and the proposed location. The only mandated location restriction proposed by Ontario is a 150 meter setback distance from public and private schools.
The key to getting a license is to provide the government with a carefully structured application demonstrating good character, a secured site (i.e. a property lease or title), approval of the local government, good tax standing, and the personal/financial ability to operate a cannabis retail store.
Cannabis Compliance is assembling application portfolios for all cannabis retail store licenses and cannabis retail operator licenses in Ontario. Contact us today to start the conversation.
Cannabis Compliance Inc. is ready to serve cannabis companies who want to build cannabis retail outlets across Ontario.
Cannabis Compliance Inc has been actively consulting for entrepreneurs and corporations entering the retail environment for cannabis, including applications for licensing. CCI supported National Access Cannabis in securing one of the four awarded licences for Manitoba. Contact us today to start the conversation.