First Ontario cannabis retail store licences issued by AGCO

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The first round of cannabis operator licences under Ontario’s licensing regime have been issued by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).

On Thursday, the AGCO revealed the first three approved locations: The Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. in Toronto, The Niagara Herbalist in St. Catharines, and Central Cannabis in London.

The Toronto store will be located at 202 Queen St. W., near St. Patrick Street.

The licence owner was unavailable to comment. Coun. Joe Cressy, who represents the area where the store is located, welcomed the news.

“It needs to be available,” he said.

“You can’t legalize a substance and then hide it so you can’t access it otherwise that fuels a black market, which is what we are trying to avoid.”

READ MORE: Pot buyers’ data stored only in Canada: Ontario Cannabis Store

Right across the street from the future retailer is cannabis culture shop Friendly Stranger, whose owner, Robin Ellins, put in a bid in the lottery. But he was unsuccessful in his quest to open a store.

“It’s frustrating… the people who got to open stores put $75 in a hat and got drawn out whether they had any experience or not,” Ellins said.

While he said he’s not happy, there could be some positive effects.

“At least now instead of saying, ‘No, there is nowhere you can get it except for online at the OCS and have it delivered to your house. I’m sorry you’re a tourist who came to town and can’t buy cannabis anywhere,’ you can now go across the street,” he said.

READ MORE: Applications open to enter lottery for 25 retail cannabis licenses in Ontario

Recreational cannabis can currently only be purchased legally in Ontario through a government-run website but 25 stores are expected to open across the province on April 1.

The AGCO said it can levy thousands in fines if applicants who get retail licences do not open their stores on time. Failing to sell marijuana by April 30, for example, would result in a $25,000 fine.

The Progressive Conservative government initially said it would not put a cap on the number of outlets, but later said it would begin with only 25 licences due to what it called “serious cannabis supply issues” that had to be addressed by the federal government.

The licences are being divided regionally with five going to the east of the province, seven in the west, two in the north, six in the Greater Toronto Area and five in Toronto itself.

– With files from The Canadian Press

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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