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A dozen Ontario cannabis retailers are being financially penalized for failing to open their stores at the beginning of this month.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission, which held a lottery to determine who could apply for store licences, had previously announced a system of escalating penalties for the province’s 25 cannabis shops if they weren’t able to start serving customers by April 1.

Stores that missed the deadline would see the commission draw down $12,500 on a $50,000 letter of credit, and would risk losing the entire amount if they still weren’t up and running by the end of the month.

Only ten of the province’s cannabis shops were ready for business on last week’s launch date.

The AGCO says it’s drawing down credit from 12 retailers that aren’t open yet, while ruling two others had their openings delayed for reasons beyond their control.

The province’s 25th retail store, chosen from a wait list after an initial lottery winner was disqualified, isn’t expected to start operations until April 28.

“The Expression of Interest Lottery Rules were very clear about the objective of opening stores as of April 1, 2019,” the commission said in a statement. “The AGCO clearly stated that only those who were committed and in a realistic position to meet that timeline should participate in the lottery … This is not a fine, it was a condition of participating.”

When cannabis first became legal across Canada in October, Ontario opted to only allow initial sales through a government-run online retailer known as the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS).

The AGCO said stores that aren’t open by April 15 will see another $12,500 draw down on their letter of credit. The remaining $25,000 would be drawn down if stores are still not open by April 30.

Source: https://globalnews.ca/news/5153125/dozen-cannabis-stores-penalized/

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