August 2019
The rollout of private cannabis retail outlets continues slowly in Ontario. Currently, there are 25 stores licenced by the Alcohol and Gaming Comissions of Ontario (AGCO). A second lottery was announced in July, which will add up to 50 stores, with 42 chose by lottery and eight reserved for First Nations.

As in the first lottery, rules set a maximum number of stores per region:
  • East Region: seven stores
  • GTA Region: six stores
  • Toronto Region: 13 stores
  • West Region: 11 stores
  • North Region: One store in each of the following cities: Kenora, North Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay and Timmins
The province also modified the original Ontario Cannabis Legalization Implementation Fund (OCLIF) funding formula for municipal governments to give greater financial recognition to jurisdictions that host cannabis retail locations.

However, all municipal governments have had to prepare for cannabis in their communities as illegal market access has continued. Some regional governments have reported increases in cannabis-related costs, such as policing, even if local municipalities have decided to opt out of retail sales.

In all, 77 of Ontario’s municipalities took the provincial offer to opt out of private cannabis sale by the January 22, 2019 deadline. These municipal governments can opt back in at a later date that is yet to be announced.

AMO looks forward to working with the province in laying the foundation for any future federal-provincial-municipal cannabis excise tax revenue agreement. The current agreement, from which OCLIF funding flows, is due for review this December 2019.

Recreational cannabis was legalized by the federal government in October 2018. The newly elected Ontario Government introduced legislation for the sale and use of recreational cannabis through Bill 36 in September 2018 and authorized the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) to license private cannabis stores in Ontario’s communities.

Citing national shortage in cannabis supply, in December 2018 the Ontario government decided to take a phased approach for the number of retail stores and locations in the province. AGCO only awarded 25 store licenses through lottery in the initial phase of private recreational cannabis sales starting April 1, 2019.