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Ontario doing away with pot shop lottery system as it looks to add more stores

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Posted at 8:22 PM, Dec 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-12 20:22:02-05

TORONTO, ONT. (AP) — The Ontario government says it is doing away with the lottery system it has used to award licenses for cannabis stores starting next month.

The Progressive Conservatives had previously said it hoped to open up the market to as many as a thousand stores, but had to slow plans down in light of a cannabis supply shortage.

The government turned to the lottery system twice to issue the province's first 75 retail licenses, but has since faced criticism for sticking with the system too long.

Critics also say the province's slow approach has left legal sellers unable to keep pace with the black market.

The province says new rules taking effect in the new year will remove the temporary cap on the number of cannabis stores in the province and eliminate pre-qualification rules for new retailers.

The government says it will also allow legal cannabis producers to enter the retail market by opening shops on their premises.

This report by the Canadian Press was first published Dec. 12, 2019.