Article by David George-Cosh, BNN Bloomberg
An Ontario appellate judge ruled on Wednesday to dismiss a motion by a group of disqualified cannabis store applicants requesting the province’s retail cannabis licensing process be suspended pending an appeal being heard.
“The process that the government has decided on should be permitted to proceed. If the moving parties are ultimately successful, they may have a remedy, at the very least, in damages,” Ontario Court of Appeal Justice Ian Nordheimer said in his remarks dismissing the stay motion.
The ruling will now see the application process to open 42 new cannabis stores in Ontario continue, although the proper roll-out of these new shops is expected to be delayed for some time.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario said in a statement released shortly after the ruling that its “focus remains on moving through the lottery and licensing process as quickly as possible while continuing to apply our rigorous licensing approach in order to allow for the opening of safe and responsible cannabis retail stores.”
After a lottery awarded 42 people the right to apply for a coveted cannabis shop in Canada’s biggest recreational pot market, the process was delayed after a group of 11 applicants filed a notice of judicial review.
The group stated they were disqualified after taking too long to submit a $50,000 letter of credit and wished to be reinstated back into the application process, arguing that the five-business day notification period was unfair for the applicants despite some not being notified they won the lottery on the date the provincial regulator claimed to do so.
Lawyers representing the group of disqualified applicants and a spokesperson from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario weren’t immediately available for comment.
In ruling against the requested stay, Justice Nordheimer noted that it would likely harm the public interest as well as the ongoing process that has already been well underway.