The provincial government in Ontario, Canada has decided to scrap the lottery system for cannabis shop permits, a process that hopefuls had to go through for a slim chance of being approved, in favour if issuing dozens of new retail permits in the spring of 2020 in an effort to expand and grow the cannabis market. The lottery system has obviously faced a lot of criticism, which is another reason this move is being made.

The government plays to open applications for prospective owners on the 6th of January, and the first new licenses will be distributed in April, with approximately 20 new cannabis store authorizations there on in per month.

All this is being done in order to attack the illegal market as well, as it’s preferred that cannabis has a dominant legal presence.T he province said it will eliminate the temporary cap on the number of private stores and cancel the pre-qualification requirements for prospective retailers. Previously, applicants had to show evidence that they had already secured retail space that could be used as a store, a bank letter confirming access to $250,000 cash, and another letter confirming the ability to get a $50,000 standby letter of credit.

Starting September next year, retail operators can own a maximum of 30 cannabis stores. It will increase to 75 in September 2021. Under the new guidelines, legal cannabis producers will also be allowed to enter the retail market by opening shops on their premises. Also, retailers will be able to sell cannabis-related items such as magazines and cookbooks. Robin Ellins of the Friendly Stranger Cannabis Culture Shop said the changes are overdue. He said it has been impossible for many prospective pot retailers to get a license due to the lottery.

“It’s a great opportunity for the industry,” Ellins said. “I think it’s an amazing opportunity to really get people from the black market into the legal market.”

He said some customers have told him they still deal in the black market due to price and convenience. (source)

“I think if you have a store down the street from you that’s licensed that you can buy good quality cannabis at reasonable prices and you know where it came from and you could find the right strain for yourself because you have the right people helping you, I think it’s going to really shift us into a much better place within the market.”

Abi Roach of the Hot Box Lounge called the announcement “fantastic” and said she hopes there are no loopholes.

She said the lottery system created problems for many pot retailers.

“I just hope they stick to it,” said Roach. “I really hope they allow entrepreneurs to flourish and don’t close Ontario for business.”

– with files from The Canadian Press