Ontario increasing rate of cannabis retail authorizations to 30 a week

| Staff

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario announced this week that they will be increasing the amount of Retail Store Authorizations (RSA) from 20 to 30 a week. 

The AGCO says their Eligibility Officers have been directly contacting all affected retail store applicants – starting with the ones that have the most imminent RSA issuance dates – to advise them of the new anticipated issuance date of their store authorizations.

To date, the AGCO has received over 1,630 RSA applications. It has issued 489 RSAs and 430 authorized cannabis retail stores are currently open in the province. There are currently over 940 active RSA applications still to be processed. New applications continue to pour in at a rate of dozens per week, says the AGCO.

In order to open a cannabis retail store in Ontario, you must have a Retail Store Authorization and Retail Operator Licence. A Retail Operator Licence cannot be transferred to another person or business.

An applicant must wait two years to apply again for a Retail Store Authorization if they applied for a new Retail Store Authorization or renewal of a Retail Store Authorization in the past but were refused, or had a Retail Store Authorization in the past but the authorization was revoked.

Ontario initially opened their retail licensing on December 13, 2018, with a temporary cap of 25 Retail Store Authorizations based on a lottery. These stores began to open by Spring 2019.

On July 3, 2019, Ontario announced that an additional 50 cannabis retail stores would be permitted across Ontario and held a lottery for those stores in August 2019. On January 6, 2020, the cannabis retail lottery rules for the second allocation of retail stores was revoked.

Then, On December 8, 2020, the AGCO announced it would begin doubling the number of RSA’s issued per month from 40-80 (20 a week). The announcement today increases that amount to 30 a week, or 120 a month.

In January of this year, a representative for the AGCO confirmed that there are five licensed producers who have been issued a Retail Operators Licence (ROL) so far, out of 14 who have applied, allowing so-called ‘farmgate sales’ once given final approval.

To help both new and current applicants better understand the RSA application process, the AGCO has developed the following resources: 

  • A Cannabis Retailer Licensing Journey Map that outlines the step-by-step process of opening a cannabis retail store, from the pre-application assessment to the opening of a store, going through the public notice posting period. Download the infographic version here.
  • An enhanced map of cannabis stores in Ontario, offering updated and detailed information on proposed and authorized cannabis retail store locations across the province, including those that are undergoing public notice.
  • The Potential RSA issuance date for new RSA applicants. This date is calculated based on the total number of RSA applications received and the issuance pace directed by the government of Ontario, currently at 30 RSAs per week. The indicated date is an estimate only and may vary depending on how early the application meets all the requirements to be issued an RSA.

For information about the application process and other regulatory and legal aspects of operating a cannabis retail store, consult the Cannabis Retail Regulation Guide.