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Olga Boiko

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has announced that The Niagara Herbalist (St. Catharines) and The Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. (Toronto) have become the first two authorized cannabis retail shops in the province.

In order to achieve this status, both applicants had to receive a Retail Operator License and a Retail Store Authorization from the AGCO. Each designation can only be granted to a retailer once it meets a specific criterion.

To receive a Retail Operator License, the AGCO must determine if the applicant is eligible to operate a store in Ontario, “per the requirements of the Cannabis License Act, 2018 and its regulation.”

After that license is granted, the physical store must meet a number of regulatory requirements. These requirements include, but are not limited to, being a minimum distance away from a school and completing a 15-day Public Interest process. If the applicant succeeds here, it is granted Retail Store Authorization.

Once the applicant becomes a “licensed operator” in the eyes of the AGCO, it can begin ordering and receiving cannabis product and accessories. Store set-up can also then be finalized.

The Niagara Herbalist and The Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. will be eligible to open their retail shops on April 1, if they successfully pass an AGCO-led pre-opening inspection.

“With our pre-inspection and conditional RSA completed, we move to the next phase which is a hyper-condensed few weeks with a final site inspection just before doors open,” reads a statement provided to Global News on behalf of The Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. “This phase will include everything from finalizing sales material, external communications, and rolling out our comprehensive staff training program. There is a lot of hard work ahead for our entire team and we are nearly at the finish line.”

Meanwhile, Central Cannabis (London) has received its Retail Operator License and is working toward receiving its Retail Store Authorization.

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