How To Become 1 Of the First 25 Legal Cannabis Retail Store Dispensaries in Ontario

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What will be required as part of the Expression of Interest? Let’s digest the Ministry of Finance announcement, the AGCO website and regulations that have been published this morning:


1. You need to be registered as a corporation and submit an Expression of Intent (unless you intend the run the store as an unincorporated sole proprietorship, etc which is not recommended). Make sure you vet any potential directors, officers, and shareholders you are considering – the time to do that is now. As a lawyer, I can help you with that.

2. The government is using a lottery system to select 25 entities that would each be to each run one store. The stores would have the following distribution across the province:

(a) Up to 5 stores in Toronto
(b) Up to 6 stores in the GTA (Durham; York; Peel; Halton)
(c) Up to 5 stores in the East (Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry; Prescott and Russell; Ottawa; Leeds and Grenville; Lanark; Frontenac; Lennox and Addington; Hastings; Prince Edward; Northumberland; Peterborough; Kawartha Lakes; Simcoe; Muskoka; Haliburton; Renfrew)
(d) Up to 2 stores in the North (Nipissing; Parry Sound; Sudbury; Greater Sudbury; Timiskaming; Cochrane; Algoma; Thunder Bay; Rainy River; Kenora)
(e) Up to 7 stores in the West (Dufferin; Wellington; Hamilton; Niagara; Haldimand-Norfolk; Brant; Waterloo; Perth; Oxford; Elgin; Chatham-Kent; Essex; Lambton; Middlesex; Huron; Bruce; Grey; Manitoulin)

3. You need to submit an “expression of intent” that identifies which Region you want to apply in (see Regions below). It is recommended you have someone who can write a strong Expression of Intent. As a lawyer I can help you draft one.

4. You can submit only 1 Expression of Interestper Region.

5. You can submit 1 Expression of Interest for each of the different Regions, but will only be selected to operate a store in one Region. I recommend applying for one EOI in each region, to increase the chance you are selected.

6. If selected as one of the 25 lottery winners, you will have an opportunity to apply for a retail operator license, and thereafter a retail store authorization to open the store.

7. Note that these first 25 operators cannot open their stores in any municipality with a population of fewer than 50,000 people, regardless of if the municipality has opted in or out.

8. Municipalities can still “opt in” or “opt out” by January 22, 2019. Stores will not be allowed to open up in any municipalities that have opted out. Markham, Richmond Hill, and other municipalities have passed resolutions to Opt-Out. The full list is here, which will be updated as municipalities opt in or out.

What happens next?

What happens next? The AGCO will release more details in the coming week.

It is very important that you put your team together, incorporate your business, apply for a Business Number, a ServiceOntario account, and sign up for an AGCO account. You should absolutely sign up for the AGCO mailing list right now, as that’s how you will be able to find out about updates right when they happen.

I can assist you with your Expression of Interest and the management and submission of your AGCO application. If you are interested in my services, please get in touch with me. The first step is to set up a retainer. If you have already set up a retainer with me, you should call me so we can put a strategy in place for you to submit a Expressions Of Interest.

I can be reached any time toll-free at 1-8-555-420-LAW, or visit my website and email me.