Ontario releases rules for next week’s marijuana store lottery

Ontario released its rules for prospective entrepreneurs who want a chance to win a license in next week’s cannabis retail lottery.

The province announced it was switching to a lottery system in mid-December due to “severe supply shortages across the country.”

The lottery – to be carried out by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) – will select 25 finalists, plus a waiting list, on Jan. 11, with results to be announced within 24 hours, the agency announced.

The application includes a nonrefundable fee of 75 Canadian dollars ($56).

Selected applicants will be required to submit a retail operator license application – including a nonrefundable CA$6,000 fee and provide a CA$50,000 letter of credit – within five days of the results being published.

A nonrefundable CA$4,000 retail store authorization fee will also be required from lottery winners.

Potential applicants who are not committed to opening a cannabis retail store on April 1, 2019, should not participate in this lottery, the AGCO warned.

Missing the April 1 deadline will cost the applicant CA$12,500; missing an April 15 deadline will cost another CA$12,500; and another CA$25,000 will be docked if the store is not open by April 30.

Any entrepreneur interested in participating in the lottery must submit an expression of interest application online through the iAGCO website between 12:01 a.m. ET on Jan. 7 and noon ET on Jan. 9.

Winning bidders will not be allowed to open a store in a city with fewer than 50,000 people, as identified by the 2016 Canadian census.

Cities with populations in excess of 50,000 may opt out of cannabis retail, but so far only two – Markham and Mississauga – have done so.

Other rules to keep in mind:

  • Prospective expression-of-interest applicants must create an iAGCO account. An iAGCO account holder may submit only one application.
  • Applicants, including affiliates, who submit more than one expression of interest for the same region will be disqualified from the lottery.
  • The holder (or affiliate) of a cultivation, processing or nursery license issued by Health Canada is not allow to participate in the lottery.
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