Toronto cafe owner suing province for $1.1M over lost cannabis licence – Toronto


Though its name suggests otherwise, marijuana isn’t on the menu at Cannabis and Coffee — and, for that reason, its owners are suing the provincial government.

Last summer, Chris James opened the café in anticipation of expanding into a legal dispensary once legalization went into effect. After investing in signage, marketing and knowledgeable staff, James was anticipating a lucrative investment.

Results of Ontario’s pot licence lottery announced

But the Ford government’s decision to award only 25 locations with retail cannabis licences through a lottery has left James’ business on the outside looking in.

This week, his legal team is serving the province with a $1.1-million lawsuit.

“This is about the fact that the government led people by the nose,” said lawyer Daniel Sommers.

“And at the last moment, the government presented this completely arbitrary and completely narrowly focused regime.”

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

Sommers said his client was positioned to have the experience needed to hit the ground running.

On top of the money, Sommers said the lawsuit is also seeking to have James awarded with that elusive retail cannabis licence.

“He is eager to engage in the market. He’s got the knowledge, he’s got the creativity and he’s got a great plan to do well in this sector,” said Sommers.

While the coffee shop’s branding is full of images related to marijuana and various paraphernalia, actual cannabis isn’t sold there.

77 out of 414 Ontario municipalities opt out of retail cannabis stores

Barista Michael Caballero said that customers looking to buy weed come into the store about once every half-hour.

Cabellero said it’s frustrating to have to turn so many potential customers away.

“We have to keep turning people away, but what else can we do?” he said.

While James already has a lawsuit in the works, Sommers said his firm has been approached by about 30 other jilted businesses. Enough, he says, that a class-action lawsuit against the provincial government is in the works.

The provincial government did not respond to an interview request from Global News.

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

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