It’s been over a year since federal legalization of recreational cannabis came into force, but the northwestern Ontario city of Sault Ste. Marie is still waiting for its first cannabis store.
Thanks to Ontario’s complicated lottery licensing system, which continues to be disputed in court, the city just north of the U.S. border and located between two Great Lakes continues to lack any physical dispensaries. This means that residents’ only option for purchasing regulated product from a licensed retailer is to buy via the Ontario Cannabis Store, which requires a credit card.
Multiple disqualified retail licence applicants are in the process of appealing a recent ruling that dismissed their motion claiming they were unjustly disqualified as a result of the failure to meet document submission timelines as laid out by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).
Appellants argue the system is highly problematic, claiming that communications from the regulator were received too late or unsent entirely.
Sault Ste. Marie seemed to have scored a smoky victory in late summer, when an August announcement revealed that an applicant named Thomas Miszuk had been chosen via the lottery system to operate a cannabis store in the city, in a plaza that (appropriately and conveniently) also contains a pizza shop. Nearly 150 applications for a dispensary in the city had been submitted.