Not all Ontario REC stores will be able to open in time. Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said Ontarians would have to “wait and see” how many REC retailers are actually able to open on April 1. “We will have stores open April 1 and I know that the AGCO is continuing to work to make sure that the 25 that have been approved get their stores open in a timely manner,” he said.
CTV News, The Star
- To date, only 10 of 25 stores have authorizations, while 12 are in the final approval process. Three (one in Toronto, two in the GTA) have not begin the process of opening their stores yet. REC retail lottery winners face fines of $12,500 per week if they are not open on time, though the Ford government has not addressed delays over which retailers have no control.
- Lawyer Matt Maurer noted five stores—constituting 25% of Ontario retailers—were licensed in one day last week, making 40% licensed. The most that could be licensed by April 1 is 21 of 25.
- Owners of one of Sudbury’s two REC stores admitted they would not be able to open until at least April 5, while both of Hamilton’s two REC retailers also announced they won’t make it on time either. Lottery winner Steven Fry, who is opening a Canna Cabana franchise, promised he would be open by 4/20. Sudbury.com, Hamilton Spectator
- Lawyer Trina Fraser said “I prefer to think as April 1st as Ontario’s ‘soft opening’ for cannabis retail. The official opening will be 4/20.”
Thanks to the random selection of REC lottery winners, some of Ontario’s mid-sized communities have been shut out of REC retail, including Windsor, Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, and Thunder Bay. (As I noted a couple of weeks ago, the two licenses in Northern Ontario will be in Sudbury for now--presuming those stores can actually get open. )
Windsor Star, Global News