Until today, recreational cannabis has only been available for legal purchase through an Ontario government-run website. The previous provincial government had said there would be no cap on the number of cannabis stores, according to CBC Canada.
But in December, citing issues with supply shortages, the government of Doug Ford said it was issuing just 25 licenses, creating a last-minute lottery system to choose the 25 operators. The winners could apply for the licenses to open their stores on April 1.
Interestingly, stores that fail to open today face escalating penalties, although the government said it won’t rush the vetting process, according to CTV News Canada. Those stores that fail to open on time face fines of up to $12,500 every two weeks, and $25,000 if they’re not open by the end of April.
The first Toronto pot shop under Ontario’s new licensing regime is set to open this morning at 9 am. About a dozen people in line right now, some people have been waiting since last night. @globalnewsto pic.twitter.com/sI0pIhZbuD
— Kamil Karamali (@KamilKaramali) April 1, 2019
Many of the stores are still working through the lengthy approval process that includes a final inspection before any initial orders for product can be placed. According to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, just 10 stores have been approved to open on April 1.
The ten brick-and-mortar locations include three in Ottawa, three in the Greater Toronto Area including one in Toronto, two in Kingston, one in St. Catharines and London.