Ontario Government Fines Cannabis Stores For Not Opening On Time

Cannabis retailers in Ontario are being hit with hefty fines for failing to open store locations by a government-imposed deadline.

A total of 11 cannabis retailers have each been fined $12,500 by the Ontario government for not opening their stores by an April 15 deadline. In all, 25 retailers were selected through a government lottery to open the first brick-and-mortar cannabis stores on April 1, but less than half of the 25 met that deadline.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario established a system of escalating penalties for retailers who didn't start serving customers by the deadline. The provincial agency says it has drawn down on letters of credit submitted by the licensees — some for a second time — taking a total of $12,500 from the $50,000 amount that each had been initially provided.

Stores that do not open by the end April face further penalties, according to the Ontario government. To date, 13 cannabis shops have opened their doors and are operating across Canada’s most populous province.

Critics say the Ontario government hasn’t given retailers enough time to open, and that the fines are only serving to damage the fledgling businesses before they get off the ground.