Prospective Ottawa pot retailers have shot at five licences in Friday lottery draw

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Applicants hoping to open a pot store in Ottawa could find out as early as today if they’ve been awarded one of five licences for eastern Ontario in the province’s lottery.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which will regulate the province's retail cannabis outlets, has said it will pick the winners of 25 total retail licences randomly today, with the results expected to be announced within 24 hours.

Those selected through the lottery will have five business days to turn in their application along with a $6,000 non-refundable fee and a $50,000 letter of credit.

The licences are being divided regionally, with five going to the east of the province, seven in the west, two in the north, six in the Greater Toronto Area and five in Toronto itself. There’s no guarantee that any of the five licences will go to Ottawa.

Recreational cannabis can currently only be purchased legally in Ontario through a government-run website, with the first private stores set to open April 1.

The Progressive Conservative government had initially said it would not put a cap on the number of outlets, but later said it would begin with only 25 licences due to what it called serious cannabis supply issues that had to be addressed by the federal government.

Ottawa’s newly elected council declined to exercise an option available to Ontario municipalities to ban private cannabis sales in a December vote, paving the way for cannabis storefronts in the capital.

– With files from OBJ staff