A week away from April 1st, only one Toronto cannabis operator slated to open retail location
With just one week until cannabis retailers in Ontario are allowed to open their doors, only a handful are actually slated to meet the April 1st target.
Of those, only one is in Toronto and for those that aren't ready, they may start seeing their $50,000 letters of credit be withdrawn.
"It is difficult to predict how many stores in Ontario will be ready to open right as of April 1," Raymond Kahnert, a senior communications official with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario said in an email.
Back in January, the AGCO revealed the winners of its cannabis lottery, which were invited to submit formal applications for retail locations, with the target of April 1st as opening day.
Several approval steps followed, including being granted a retail operator license and then the retail store authorization.
As of Monday afternoon, only 10 locations in Ontario have been issued a store authorization, including just one in Toronto, according to the AGCO.
It's possible the Hunny Pot on Queen St. W. will be the only Toronto location ready next Monday and it still has to have its final inspection this week.
But communications officer Cameron Brown doesn't anticipate any issues.
"The focus was to be open on April 1st because that was the first day you could be open," he said.
Applicants were required to submit $50,000 letters of credit, of which $12,500 can be withdrawn on April 1st for operators who are not open the day of.
That's followed by withdrawals of another $12,500 on April 15th and $25,000 on April 30th.
"The AGCO clearly expressed that only those who were committed and in a realistic position to meet that timeline should participate in the Expression of Interest," Kahnert said.
Brown said Hunny Pot received its retail authorization on March 7th.
"It really didn't have anything to do with the Letter of Credit or the penalties or the fines, that wasn't in our mind, as much money as it is," he said. "We wanted to be there at 9 a.m. on April 1st welcoming the first clients into the first retail location in Ontario."
The AGCO however can use its discretion and choose not to withdraw money depending on an operator's circumstances.
Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said Monday the government wasn't going to rush into approving locations.
"I'd rather make sure that we just get it right," he said, adding he doesn't want what's happening in Quebec, where stores are closing on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. "We're doing it right, we're going to take a measured approach to this."
"It's the safety of our children, it's the safety of our roads," he said. "They certainly knew when they went in that they have so many days after April 1st."