50 New Cannabis Retail Stores to Open in Ontario


The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) announced on July 3 that it will provide authorizations for 50 new cannabis retail stores in the province, more than doubling the current number of 25.

Of this number, 42 will be allocated by lottery on August 2, and eight store authorizations will be available, on a “first come, first served basis,” for those who wish to operate a store on a First Nations reserve and have Band Council approval to do so.

“Our government is continuing to take a responsible approach to opening cannabis stores across Ontario, allowing private sector businesses to build a safe and convenient retail system to combat the illegal market,” says Minister of Finance Rod Phillips. “With marginal improvements in national supply, we are proceeding to issue up to 50 new cannabis store licenses.”

Lottery Qualifications for the 42 Stores

The 42 stores will be distributed across Ontario regions as follows:

  • 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

A complete list of lottery rules, qualification requirements, info about the application process and timelines can be found here.

But in brief, the government has established new pre-qualification requirements that will “streamline the licensing process with the AGCO and help ensure the readiness of cannabis retail operator license applicants.” Prospective retailers must show that they have secured retail space for their cannabis store and that they have access to enough capital to sustain it. Licensed retail stores may now be opened in any municipality regardless of population, as long as the municipality did not opt-out of the retail cannabis market.

New Opportunities and New Challenges

The new players in Ontario’s legal cannabis retail market will have access to great new opportunities and also face steep challenges. The province remains committed to keeping cannabis out of the hands of young people, protecting communities and continuing to combat the cannabis black market.

Cannabis retail stores new and old have to stay fully compliant with federal and provincial cannabis regulations. As the only payments company in Canada delivering innovative payment processing solutions tailored to the cannabis industry, Merrco is fully invested in being at the forefront of cannabis industry trends and regulations, and dedicated to addressing security and compliance requirements as they evolve.

We help cannabis businesses thrive by bringing seamless, secure payment solutions to the market and making payments smarter, simpler every step of the way. Whether you sell in-store or online, we have the right payment processing solution for you including ecommerce, virtual terminal, mobile, recurring, card present, gift and multi-currency offerings.

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