Recently the government of Ontario announced that it is abandoning its current lottery system and instead will have an open licensing system that will start in January of next year.

The lottery system had angered prospective retailers and the new system is expected to see the removal of a cap on the number of private cannabis stores across the province.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), which is in charge of the cannabis retail system, will begin accepting operator licence applications from prospective retailers on Jan. 6, 2020, followed by store authorization applications on March 2, 2020, according to a source.

Store authorizations will be issued beginning next April, at a rate of approximately 20 a month, similar to the pace in which Alberta awards cannabis store licences.

“In response to the federal government’s decision to legalize cannabis, our government is determined to open the cannabis market as responsibly as possible,” said Attorney General Doug Downey. “We have said all along that opening more legal stores is the most effective way to combat the illicit market, protect our kids and keep our communities safe. That is our number one priority.”

“Moving towards an open allocation system for retail store licences is a positive step towards eradicating the illicit market and providing consumers with access to safe and regulated products,” said Omar Yar Khan, the national cannabis sector lead at Hill + Knowlton Strategies.

“As the government moves forward with this new licensing system, it should also look at ways to enhance the online consumer experience,” he added.

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