One of the most glaring problems with the legal marijuana industry in Canada is a lack of places selling legal marijuana, and nowhere is this problem more visible than in the country’s largest province, Ontario.
Home to some 14 million Canadians, Ontario is also home to the country’s largest city – and the 7th largest city in North America – Toronto. This should translate into a lot of places to buy legal marijuana since companies would be chomping at the bit to open up a store in such a populated province. But, as of this writing, regulations and caps in Ontario have led to only about two dozen stores operating there.
For those keeping track at home, that’s almost 600,000 people for every marijuana shop. And while it’s true that a lot of those people are children and people who don’t buy marijuana, there are still millions left who would if given the chance.
To help alleviate this obviously poor turn of events, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has announced that they are removing some of the caps associated with operating a legal marijuana store in the province. They are supposed to start accepting operator license applications from hopeful retailers on January 6, 2020; this will be followed by store authorization applications on March 2, 2020.
According to the plan, this will lead to more operators opening by April of 2020 and will allow up to 250 stores to be open in Ontario by the end of the year. New rules will also end the lottery system that was being used to award licenses, possibly the worst and most inefficient way to allow business to open. It’s no surprise that the system was riddled with problems.
The new rules will raise the cap on stores that can be owned by one entity to 10, then 30, then eventually 75 by September of 2021. This means large chains will be able to compete with each other over large areas; this will lower prices and increase variety and quality for consumers.
Legal marijuana is a popular commodity with a built-in customer base, one that has been using the product for decades. Many are just waiting for a place to buy some marijuana legally. Millions of those people are in Ontario, and hopefully by this time next year many more of them will have a shop within driving distance where they can buy cannabis without worrying about legal ramifications.