Ontario government decides only 25 weed stores can open in April
Last night, less than one hour after Toronto voted in favour of allowing physical pot shops within city limits, Doug Ford's PC government announced yet another surprise change to the rules: There can only be 25.
Yes, only 25 recreational Cannabis retail stores will now be allowed to open on April 1, 2019, according to Ontario finance minister Vic Fedeli, on account of "national supply shortages."
That's not 25 stores in Toronto, mind you—it's 25 stores across the entire province, each to be chosen by the AGCO in a lottery system next month.
Ontario— Jesse Hawken (@jessehawken) December 14, 2018
- number of LCBO locations in the province: 651
- number of beer stores in the province: 452
- number of cannabis stores in the province (April 2019): 25
Previous to this, Ontario had promised there would be no cap on the number of licenses issued to businesses that wished to sell marijuana when brick-and-mortar cannabis stores became legal in April (though any one operator could only have 75 locations accross the province, maximum).
"It is the federal government's responsibility to oversee cannabis production and to provide a viable alternative to the illegal market by ensuring there is sufficient supply to meet consumer demand," reads a statement from Fedeli and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney issued Thursday night.
"Yet, we continue to see severe supply shortages across the country in legal, licensed recreational cannabis stores," it continues.
Thus, says the government, it "cannot in good conscience issue an unlimited number of licences to businesses in the face of such shortages."
Fedeli and Mulroney blame the federal government for failing "to provide certainty around future supply" and say that the issue "demands an immediate response from Justin Trudeau."
Once Ford's government is certain that supply levels are adequate, it will "communicate next steps for additional private retail stores."
No expected date for that to happen is given, but the government does assure that its lottery for issuing a private retail licence is a "temporary model."
In the meantime, Torontonians can still legally purchase weed online from the government's own Ontario Cannabis Store... or, you know, purchase it from whoever has already been supplying the country in spades for decades.
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