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Ontario opens up cannabis market

The province is loosening the leash on the retail cannabis market.

The Ford government has announced several amendments to the Cannabis Licence Act, including removing a cap on the number of stores and eliminating pre-qualification requirements for prospective store owners.

Other changes include phasing in higher limits of the number of stores retail operators can own.

The limit will increase from 10 to 30 in September 2020 and 75 in September 2021.

Stores will also be able to offer “click and collect” services allowing customers to order and pay for products online for in-store pick up, and sell cannabis-related items such as magazines and cookbooks.

“In response to the federal government’s decision to legalize cannabis, our government is determined to open the cannabis market as responsibly as possible,” said Attorney General Doug Downey. “We have said all along that opening more legal stores is the most effective way to combat the illicit market, protect our kids and keep our communities safe. That is our number one priority.”

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) will begin accepting        operator licence applications from prospective retailers on Jan. 6, 2020, followed by store authorization applications on March 2, 2020.  Store authorizations from this open application process are expected to be issued beginning in April, at an initial rate of approximately 20 per month.

Oshawa’s first cannabis retail store Tokyo Smoke opened at 575 Laval Drive in July.

A second store, called The Friendly Stranger, has been proposed at 204 Ritson Rd. S., and is in the application process.