Ontario’s cannabis lottery: the deck is stacked in favour of big money
Ontario announced the winners of its cannabis lottery for retail licences on Wednesday (August 21).
After a sleepless night for many applicants expecting the results to be announced before sunrise, the province’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO) released the names of the 42 lucky winners just after 10 am.
Some 5,000 expressions of interest were submitted for licenses to open retail pot shops with more than 4,800 making the final draw. But a number of revelations surrounding some of the winners have led to questions about loopholes in the process.
Turns out one of the winners, a numbered company (11180673 Canada Inc.) owned by film producer and director Rob Heydon, has proposed opening up a shop on Harbord at the location currently occupied by CAFE (Cannabis and Fine Edibles). That’s the unlicensed dispensary chain at the centre of a highly-publicized battle to stay open ever since police and city officials blocked its doors with concrete barriers. CAFE’s four outlets have continued to operate on the sidewalk outside its four locations. Heydon, however, claims to have zero affiliation with CAFE.