AGCO to accept expressions of interest for Ontario's first 25 pot shops starting Monday

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario will begin accepting expressions of interest for opening Ontario's first 25 cannabis retail shops at 12:01 a.m. Monday. 

The submission period lasts a total of 60 hours, ending on Wednesday at noon.

Applicants must be in a position to open their shop on April 1 - the first day legalized retail stores can operate - and must also pay a $75 fee. 

The 25 winners will be chosen by lottery on Friday, with the winners posted online within a 24-hour period.

Those winners will then have five business days to submit an application which includes a non-refundable $6,000 Retail Operator Licence Application Fee as well as a $50,000 letter of credit.

The AGCO says anyone who is chosen and does not open their shop on April 1 should prepare to face stiff penalties.

Of the 25 set to open, the AGCO says five (5) will be located in Toronto. As for the others:

  • 6 within the Greater Toronto Area (Durham, York, Peel and Halton regions)
  • 5 within the eastern parts of the province (including locations such as Ottawa, Peterborough, Muskoka and Prince Edward County)
  • 7 within the western areas of the province (including locations such as Hamilton, Niagara and Chatham-Kent)
  • 2 in Northern Ontario (Nipissing, Parry Sound, Greater Sudbury and all areas to the north)

In December, the Ford government announced it would be putting a temporary cap on the number of stores initially being opened due to a cannabis shortage throughout the country.

Premier Doug Ford called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to take action immediately.

Experts have said that 25 stores in total will not be able to meet the demand for legal cannabis throughout Ontario. 

For a full list of the lottery rules, visit the AGCO's website.