Canada’s province Ontario has now surpassed 100 retail store authorizations for cannabis.
The largest market for adult use cannabis products in the country saw its 100th retail store authorization this month according to Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) records.
Not all of the stores are open as they complete the regulatory process.
The records show that fourteen new stores were granted a Retail Store Authorization (RSA) in February, falling to 11 in March before rebounding to 18 and 26 in April and May.
The AGCO has conducted hundreds of virtual inspections since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Toronto cannabis lawyer Matt Maurer, who co-chairs the cannabis practice at Torkin Manes, said the AGCO, the Ontario Cannabis Store and the provincial government all play important roles in the store allocation process.
“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 said.
“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 added.
“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 stores are shown as “Authorized to Open” on Ontario’s public website once they have met all regulatory requirements, including passing a preopening inspection.
Alberta still leads with 483 cannabis providers.