Critics noted the separation of provincial applications into multiple regions failed to result in any of the 42 stores being located in large suburbs Etobicoke and North York. Kitchener-Waterloo in Southern Ontario, home to more than half a million people, finally got its first REC store after nine months of legalization.
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Hotbox Lounge owner Abi Roach was shut out of the lottery, despite being one of Toronto’s most prominent and longstanding cannabis advocates and businesspeople who has operated within the law for 20 years.

  • In an appearance on TVO’s The Agenda also featuring Globe and Mail cannabis reporter Mark Rendell, Roach lamented that the lottery format forced the province’s small number of cannabis experts to compete at the same level as well-funded businesspeople who know nothing about cannabis but want to get cannabis-wealthy.
  • Rendell noted while LPs and private REC retailers weren’t allowed to enter the lottery, the sole-proprietors who won will nearly all partner with major REC retail companies like Fire & Flower and National Access Cannabis.

In a Twitter thread, Cannabis Act podcast host Jon Liedtke compared Ontario’s retail rollout to Alberta’s and concluded Ontario’s ineffective REC retail rollout owes to the Ford government’s abrupt changes to the Wynne government’s established plan.

The Globe and Mail editorial board lambasted the lottery as a failure that began with the Ford government’s poor response to the supply shortage in the winter. Following a second widely derided lottery, the Ministry of the Attorney General told MJ Biz Daily they intend to move to a system of allocating stores based on market demand, because there have been “moderate improvements in supply.”

  • MJ Biz‘s Matt Lamers said, “This sloppy lottery is probably, and thankfully, the last.”