Ontario could have up to 1,000 private pot shops after recreational cannabis is legalized, the province’s Progressive Conservatives said Thursday, significantly more stores than planned under the previous Liberal government.
While introducing legislation to create a regulatory regime for cannabis sales, the government said it expected a flood of applications from those looking to run the private stores that will open next April and noted that they would be vetted very carefully by the province’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission.
“There will be, I’m sure, a lot of applications to the AGCO and they’re going to have a lot of work in order to do the due diligence that’s required,” said Attorney General Caroline Mulroney. ” I don’t expect that all applications will be granted immediately.”
There will be no caps on the number of stores when the retail model launches next spring, but government’s legislation allows for flexibility when it comes to the concentration of stores in individual markets, the government said.
“We want to make sure that the market is not dominated by one or two parties,” Mulroney said. “If municipalities and local residents feel that the concentration is too high or there are issues related to the store location or the particular applicant, they have an opportunity at that time to speak directly to that.”
The Progressive Conservative plan for pot is a stark change from the Liberals’ rules.
Under the previous regime, pot was to be sold in government-run stores and Ontarians would only have been able to consume it in private residences.