Ontario awards 50 retail cannabis licenses in second lottery

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Fifty new retail cannabis licenses were awarded this week in Ontario’s second lottery.

The lottery hands out licenses to sell legal marijuana to 42 retail stores, including 13 in Toronto and six in the rest of the GTA, while eight more will be given to First Nations Reserves through a separate, first-come first-serve basis.

Unlike the first lottery in January, which saw 25 retail licenses handed out, this one required applicant to provide confirmation they had secured a lease, along with the capital to run it.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario said a bank letter confirming access to $250,000 cash and another confirming the ability to get a $50,000 standby letter of credit was needed to apply.

The province was hoping to weed out unprepared applicants.

The new stores will be allowed to open on a rolling basis starting in October.

The Ontario government had cited national supply issues for the decision to hold an initial lottery of just 25 stores, but that was easing at the time of the second lottery announcement.

In a statement finance minister Rod Phillips said: “Our government is continuing to take a responsible approach to opening cannabis stores across Ontario, allowing private sector businesses to build a safe and convenient retail system to combat the illegal market.”

However, it remains to be seen whether the rash of legal cannabis stores across the province does anything to dent the lure of illegal cannabis which can retail for a price point lower than what is on offer at legal cannabis stores. -CINEWS

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