Draw for Ontario's pot licence lottery expected today, with results within 24h

TORONTO -- Ontario could announce the results of a lottery to apply for the first 25 retail cannabis licences as early as today.

Those seeking to open a pot shop in the province had from Monday to early afternoon Wednesday to submit an expression of interest.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which will regulate the province's retail cannabis outlets, has said it will pick the winners randomly today, with the results expected to be announced within 24 hours.

Those selected through the lottery will have five business days to turn in their application along with a $6,000 non-refundable fee and a $50,000 letter of credit.

The licences are being divided regionally, with five going to the east of the province, seven in the west, two in the north, six in the Greater Toronto Area and five in Toronto itself.

Recreational cannabis can currently only be purchased legally in Ontario through a government-run website, with the first private stores set to open April 1.

The Progressive Conservative government had initially said it would not put a cap on the number of outlets, but later said it would begin with only 25 licences due to what it called serious cannabis supply issues that had to be addressed by the federal government.