Ontario could soon add hundreds of new cannabis stores
After weeks of buildup and speculation, Ontario's PC government has finally released its first provincial budget — and, as expected, many changes are afoot.
From drinking in parks and putting alcohol on convenience store shelves to letting bars serve at 9 a.m. and stocking casinos with free booze, Doug Ford's Government for the People™ made no bones about how much it values Ontario's right to get effed up.
Beer, wine and liquor aren't the only legal mind-altering substances available in the province, however, and weed smokers want more than a handful of retail stores to choose from.
The government wants to help by lifting its previously-imposed cap on the number of stores permitted to open across Ontario.
As it stands now, only 25 retail licenses have been authorized by the province — five of them in Toronto — thanks to what Ontario finance minister Vic Fedeli called "national supply shortages" back in December.
Supply remains an issue, according to the budget tabled today, but the government "remains committed to moving towards an open allocation of licenses where the number of stores is limited only by market demand."
"To enable the opening of additional licensed stores, the government will develop a process to allow the AGCO to pre-qualify operators that seek to enter the market and participate in future allocations of retail store authorizations," reads the government's budget website.
"When Ontario has determined that the federal government has provided for enough reliable supply, it will issue further retail store authorizations, including in municipalities with a population of less than 50,000 and in First Nation communities," reads the budget document.
Ontario says that it has formally asked Canada's federal government to take concrete steps in addressing supply chain issues that have resulted in a national weed shortage.
Once satisfied that there is enough recreational cannabis in Canada to go around, the provincial government says that it will start the process of lifting its cap from 25 stores to unlimited, as was originally intended as of April 1 after legalization in Canada.
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