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Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022
Mugglehead Magazine
Cannabis & psychedelics industry news based in Vancouver, B.C.
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Ontario reduces cannabis retail applicant inspection process

The AGCO is cutting one of the physical inspections required for new weed stores

AGCO reduces cannabis retail pre-opening inspection process
Calyx + Trichomes Cannabis in Kingston, Ont. Submitted photo

Ontario’s cannabis regulator is cutting the number of inspections that new stores are required to undergo before opening.

In a statement Wednesday, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario said that retail applicants will now have to pass a virtual educational session and a single integrated inspection focused on high-risk compliance criteria.

Previously, prospective stores underwent an educational session and two inspections before opening.

After considering feedback from industry stakeholders, the AGCO says it’s changing the cannabis store inspection process to make it more efficient and reduce the burden on licensees, “while maintaining the same rigorous compliance criteria that applicants must meet before their store can open.”

But the change doesn’t directly impact retailers very much, says Jennawae McLean, co-owner of Calyx + Trichomes Cannabis.

The second inspection was always a bit redundant that was probably a burden on the AGCO, she explains. The rules are really straightforward so both of her stores were functionally ready at the pre-inspection stage.

“So this is a positive change that will ease the burden on the AGCO — who also have alcohol, casinos etc. to monitor — which will ultimately cut down on wait times for licensing.”

As of Nov. 29, weed store applicants will no longer have to complete a pre-opening inspection.

Lower-risk compliance criteria will now be checked once a store has opened, as part of ongoing compliance inspections, the AGCO says. Stores will still have to meet the same compliance criteria.

“The AGCO is confident that our streamlined compliance inspection process maintains the same rigorous authorization standards and expectations of honesty and integrity from our cannabis licensees.”

Ontario has increased the rate of new pot shop approvals several times over the past two years.

Read more: Ontario promises to double pot shop approvals

Read more: ‘It’s still too slow’: Ontario doubles monthly weed retail approvals to 40

The following is required for applicants before Nov. 29:

  • a mandatory education session,
  • a pre-authorization inspection,
  • a pre-opening inspection, and
  • ongoing compliance inspections once a store is open.

The following is required for applicants after or on Nov. 29:

  • a mandatory virtual education session,
  • a pre-authorization inspection, which includes all high-risk criteria previously included in pre-opening inspections, and
  • ongoing compliance inspections once store is open, which includes all low-risk criteria from pre-opening inspections.

The following is required for operators with existing stores on or after Nov. 29:

  • an optional virtual education session,
  • a pre-authorization inspection, which includes all high-risk criteria previously included in pre-opening inspections, and
  • ongoing compliance inspections once store is open, which includes all low-risk criteria from pre-opening inspections.

For more information, people can visit the updated retail store pre-authorization section in the cannabis regulation guide.

For more information on the inspection process, visit the updated Retail Store Pre-Authorization section in the Cannabis Retail Regulation Guide.

Update (2021-12-1 5:05 p.m. PT): This article was updated to include comment from Jennawae McLean.

 

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