cannabis store toronto

Cannabis stores in Toronto aren't going to open in time for April 1

It's looking less and less likely that we'll all wake up on the first day of April to a city where buying weed is as simple as buying beer.

Yes, 25 retail cannabis stores in Ontario will legally be able to open their doors on April 1, but will they open? Absolutely not. Not all of them, anyway.

Five retail cannabis licenses were awarded to businesses within the City of Toronto as part of Doug Ford's suprise marijuana lottery in January.

Since then, only four of those stores have applied for authorization to exist in their desired locations through the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).

We know this, because every AGCO application must be posted on the Crown agency's website for a mandatory public notice period of 20 days, during which time anyone can file objections against the proposed business.

The latest Toronto licence holder to announce its location is Tokyo Smoke, which plans to open a mega-store within what used to be the  HMV flagship near Yonge and Dundas. Given how late in the game this was announced, however, locals have until April 2 to raise concerns as per the AGCO.

Even if all goes flawlessly and there's nothing to address or modify, the company then has to actually go through the process of opening a massive retail store in downtown Toronto, which is no small feat.

The owner of one soon-to-open Niagara Falls cannabis store told The Hamilton Spectator this week that it would take about 10 days after the notice period had ended just to wrap up the AGCO process.

It remains to be seen when the new Tokyo Smoke store will manage to open, but it most certainly won't be on April 1.

Toronto's fifth lottery winner hasn't even filed an application yet. Once they do, they'll need to wait at least 20 days for objections to roll in through the AGCO—and there are only nine days left in March, so the math is pretty clear.

Three other Toronto stores (Ameri in Yorkville,  The Hunny Pot in Queen West and Nova Cannabis, also in Queen West) have already made it through the mandatory public consultation period. But, none have announced opening dates, at least one is still under heavy construction, and only The Hunny Pot has actually been authorized by the AGCO to open.

Stiff financial penalties await licence holders who fail to open their stores by April 1, according to The Spectacor—$12,500 right off the bat and then another $12,500 after April 15. Those who don't open by the end of the month will lose the entire $50,000 line of credit they were required to put up through the lottery process.

I suppose it goes to show how much money these businesses expect to be raking in. When 50 Gs are no big thing, you've got some wiggle room.

For now, people in Toronto can purchase recreational marijuana through the government's own website, as Ontario remains the only province in Canada aside from Nunavut without any legal brick-and-mortar retail cannabis stores.

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