A judge has paused the licensing process for Ontario Cannabis Stores across the province so a judicial review can take place to determine whether or not 11 would-be store owners were unfairly disqualified.
It’s a move that lawyer Peter Brauti, who is representing the 11 people who were disqualified, says is “drastic” and “huge.”
“If common sense prevails, they’ll be reinstated,” he told CBC News.
The crux of the challenge, according to court documents, is that the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has said Brauti’s clients didn’t meet timelines laid out for submitting documents.
The province is allotting 75 licences to operate Cannabis Retail Stores in Ontario. Anyone who was interested in applying for a licence had to apply through a lottery system, which was conducted in two rounds.
Brauti’s clients won the lottery when their names were drawn from among thousands who entered. But AGCO rules required winners to comply with several steps before they could be granted a full licence.
The winners had five business days to turn in their application for a licence, along with a $6,000 non-refundable fee and a $50,000 letter of credit.
Brauti told CBC news the province is trying to say they sent emails to his clients notifying them they had won the lottery — but they all bounced back.
“The government says the registered letter was meaningless — it was the bounced-back email that counted,” Brauti said.
“To my mind, this is just absolutely crazy the way this thing transpired,” he said.