Canada’s largest market for adult-use cannabis merchandise noticed its 100th retail store authorization this month, Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario information present, although not all of the shops are open as they full the regulatory course of.
It is a crucial milestone for a province that has lagged different jurisdictions in store openings since cannabis was legalized in late 2018. Alberta stays the chief with 483 cannabis suppliers, although that market is displaying indicators of retail saturation.
The public information from the AGCO exhibits the province has elevated the tempo of recent store authorizations regardless of the continuing pandemic.
Fourteen new shops have been granted a Retail Store Authorization (RSA) in February, falling to 11 in March earlier than rebounding to 18 and 26 in April and May, respectively.
That places Ontario on tempo to achieve – and sure surpass – the unique goal laid out by the earlier Liberal authorities to open 150 shops in 2020. (The present authorities adopted a private-store mannequin however had been sluggish to authorize new shops.)
The AGCO has carried out a whole bunch of digital inspections for the reason that onset of the pandemic, which was key to rising the variety of shops in latest months.
Toronto cannabis lawyer Matt Maurer, who co-chairs the cannabis follow at Torkin Manes, mentioned the AGCO, the Ontario Cannabis Store and the provincial authorities all play pivotal roles within the store-allocation course of.
“If either the AGCO or the OCS decided to shut down – or the government shut them down – it would have been devastating to the store count for 2020,” he mentioned.
“I think if the government – and I use that term broadly to encompass the provincial government, the AGCO and the OCS – had the collective willpower, we could easily see more than 20 stores a month be licensed from here on out,” he mentioned.
“But since you need all three, in some shape or form, to sign off on that decision, it becomes more difficult to just be decisive, despite the fact that the capacity and capability appears to be there.”
Cannabis shops are proven as “Authorized to Open” on Ontario’s public website as soon as they’ve met all regulatory necessities, together with passing a preopening inspection.
After a Retail Store Authorization is issued, the store operator could order product from the Ontario Cannabis Store – the province’s wholesaler.
After the product is in place and the store is prepared with all different necessities, the AGCO schedules the final preopening inspection.
If accredited, the store operator is issued an approval letter and the store is allowed to open.