cannabis lottery ontario

Toronto business owner suing the Ontario government over cannabis retail lottery

Ontario's cannabis legalization process has been fraught with complications and controversies, and the retail store lottery system is one of its most contentious problems.

As part of the rollout, the provincial government announced a lottery system would be put in place to limit cannabis retail stores to only 25, citing a shortage of product as the culprit.

Many were justifiably upset with the process, as it severely limits not only who can open a business under a provincial government that touts Ontario is "Open for Business," but the availability of stores for potential customers. 

Now, some are looking to sue the province.

One business owner, Chris James, of Cannabis & Coffee, says the "abrupt" decision to limit stores to 25 was a blow to his business, which had been prepared to file for a license upon legalization. 

James had been planning to convert the space, which is currently a cafe, into a cannabis retail store, which he now cannot do. He's suing for $1.1 million as a result, asking for reparations to his lost business, and a cannabis retail license.

He also points out that the province took the approach of asking "random" applicants to open the first 25 stores, rather than qualified, experienced owners that had been operating for years.

As the province announces the results of the lottery, many have been quick to note that the winners often have no cannabis retail experience. 

Ontario's first 25 cannabis stores are set to open April 1. 

Lead photo by

Cannabis & Coffee


Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in City

Toronto cyclist nears end of 46-day ride for George Floyd

Uber takes swift action against driver after woman alleges racial slur in Toronto

Founder and CEO of the Drake Hotel in Toronto steps down amid racism controversy

Here's what the weather forecast looks like for the rest of summer in Toronto

Doug Ford says Ontario is close to Stage 3 reopening and here's what that would include

Toronto isn't going to do anything about overcrowding at city beaches

Ripley's Aquarium in Toronto changes policy after complaints about reopening plans

Toronto street named after slaveowner will soon be called something else