TORONTO — Ontario is holding its second lottery to select operators hoping to run cannabis shops in the province.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario was selecting 42 companies on Tuesday that can apply for pot store licences, with the results expected to be made public Wednesday.
Unlike the first lottery held earlier this year, which faced criticism for not including a merit component, applications for the second draw have to show evidence that they have secured retail space that could be used as a store if they are selected, and that they have enough capital to open it.
Those selected will have until Aug. 28 to pay licensing fees, and provide a letter of credit for $50,000 to the regulator.
“The AGCO will only licence applicants and authorize stores that meet all legal and regulatory requirements,” the regulator said.
The 42 stores will be distributed regionally, with 13 in the city of Toronto, six going to the Greater Toronto Area, 11 in the west region, seven going to the east region, and in the north, one each in Kenora, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay and Timmins.
They will be allowed to open in any municipality regardless of population if the community did not opt out of having cannabis stores.
The new pot shops are expected to start opening in October this year, the AGCO has said.
Another eight stores will be located on First Nations reserves and are being approved through a separate process.
Applicants for those store licences were selected last month and are currently in the midst of being greenlit, the AGCO said.
The pre-qualification rules for prospective lottery participants don’t apply to those looking to open an on-reserve store. The relevant band council must approve the location of the on-reserve stores.
The Ontario government decided on an initial round of just 25 stores last year, citing national supply issues, but that appears to be easing.
The first set of stores were meant to open on April 1, but several operators missed that deadline. The latest lottery means the number of pot shops allowed in Ontario will rise to 75.
Shawn Jeffords , The Canadian Press