By MURRAY SNIDER, Founding Partner

On December 12, 2019, the Government of Ontario announced its move towards an open market for private cannabis retail in Ontario and related amendments to Ontario Regulation 468/18 made under the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018.

In Ontario, individuals and company’s seeking to operate a cannabis retail store must follow a two-step application process with the Alcohol and Gambling Commission of Ontario (“AGCO”). First, they must qualify for a Retail Operator Licence (“ROL”), which confirms they meet the eligibility criteria set out in the Cannabis Licence Act and its regulations. Second, once licensed, an operator’s proposed physical store(s) must qualify for a Retail Store Authorization (“RSA”), which confirms the store meets the location, layout, security and other requirements set out in the regulations and AGCO’s standards.

The Changes

On January 6, 2020, the cannabis retail lottery rules in Ontario will terminate. This means that prior to this date, winners of the previous lotteries who have been invited to apply for retail cannabis licenses should not apply for either a ROL or RSA, as these applications will not be considered, and the application fees will be non-refundable.

After January 6, 2020, the AGCO will begin accepting ROL applications from any interested applicant, which now includes applications from licensed cannabis producers. On March 2, 2020, the restrictions on the total number of store authorizations permitted in the province, and their regional distribution, will be revoked. At this time the AGCO will begin accepting applications for RSAs from interested applicants, including from licensed cannabis producers who may apply for a retail store at a production facility.

This particular change is especially exciting, as the market will be free to expand towards a model similar to that of the beer and wine, where producers can invite visitors to their production facilities for tours and will be allowed to sell their product on site.

Chand & Co. is a boutique law firm at the forefront of the licensing and regulatory field, with offices in Toronto and Ottawa. Chand & Co. has a dedicated Cannabis Law Group committed to serving clients throughout Ontario. Whether you are a start-up, established business, licensed producer, investor, or someone looking into entering this growing market, call us today at 416.583.2377 and let our expertise work for you.

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