The owner of a London cannabis retail store that still isn’t open has been penalized $50,000 by the province’s pot regulator.
An Ontario numbered company behind Tweed, located at 1025 Wellington Rd. S, is one of seven store owners forfeiting an additional $25,000 to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) for failing to be in business by April 30, a spokesperson for the regulator confirmed.
Eleven owners previously had $25,000 drawn from their letters of credit submitted to the AGCO — a condition for applying to open a marijuana retail outlet — for not opening by mid-April.
Twenty-five individuals and companies were selected through a lottery system to open one of the province’s first bricks-and-mortar marijuana retail stores, but only 10 of the operators were able to meet the April 1 deadline.
Tweed is one of five outlets that still must obtain its retail store authorization from the AGCO — the second last step before the business can open — before passing a final inspection.
After the authorization is issued, stores are required to begin selling cannabis within 12 months, an AGCO spokesperson said.
“The process of eligibility review and licensing continues. If it is determined an applicant is not eligible, the next name on the waiting list would be invited to apply (for the retail licence),” spokesperson Raymond Kahnert wrote in an email.
The numbered company behind the south-end store has entered a licensing agreement with Canopy Growth, the world’s largest cannabis company, to open a bricks-and-mortar store under its Tweed banner.
Licensed pot producers like Canopy were barred from participating in the AGCO’s lottery and limited to a 9.9 per cent ownership in any bricks-and-mortar marijuana retail operation.
The latest round of AGCO penalties prompted criticism from one of Ontario’s largest public-sector unions.
“If the premier had stuck to the previous government’s plan to leave cannabis sales in the hands of the LCBO, we would have had dozens of stores open last fall,” Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) president Warren (Smokey) Thomas said in a statement.
“Instead we have a bunch of fly-by-night operators who are totally unreliable, picked through some half-baked lottery.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford nixed the Liberal plan to sell recreational pot through LCBO-run stores, while keeping the government-run online service, the Ontario Cannabis Store, as the exclusive wholesaler.
London will have three cannabis retail stores when Tweed opens — the same number as Ottawa and just two fewer than Toronto. Already open are Central Cannabis at 666 Wonderland Rd. and J. London at 691 Richmond St.