Ontario court set for pot shop appeal which has long jammed licenses
The 11 disqualified cannabis store applicants in Ontario who had their case dismissed last Friday are appealing the decision and asking the court to suspend allocating any licences to future pot shops again, a lawyer representing the group said.
Lawrence Gridin, a lawyer from Brauti Thorning LLP who represents the group, confirmed to BNN Bloomberg in a phone interview that the law firm filed documents at Ontario’s Court of Appeal and plans to ask for an interim stay of the court’s ruling from Friday.
He declined to provide further comment on the group’s plans for appeal.
On Friday, three judges overseeing the notice for judicial review – Justice David Corbett, Justice Katherine Swinton and Justice Robbie Gordon – dismissed an application brought forward by the disqualified applicants to be reinstated in the licensing process. The judges stated they will release reasons for their ruling within 10 days.
In the judicial review notice submitted to the Ontario Divisional Court, each of the disqualified candidates stated that they were notified by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) at least one day after a date-stamped notice was submitted to them via email, couriered letter or through a phone call.
Lawyers representing the AGCO said each of the disqualified candidates missed a five-business day window to submit a $50,000 letter of credit required to move forward in the cannabis store licensing process.
A stay on Ontario’s licensing process for the latest round of cannabis stores has also been lifted, the judges said Friday. Earlier this month, Justice Corbett had paused the process until the case was resolved.
Ray Kahnert, a spokesperson with the AGCO, declined to comment in an email to BNN Bloomberg.
If another interim stay is granted by an Ontario appellate judge, it would further exasperate delays in the opening of bricks-and-mortar pot stores in the country’s most populous province. The situation has been blamed for softer-than-expected sales among cannabis producers in the first year of legal recreational marijuana in Canada.
Lawyers representing the group of disqualified applicants focused their argument on whether or not an email that isn’t delivered to the intended recipient is enough to be considered “notifying” that person, according to court filings obtained by BNN Bloomberg.
“The issues raised by this appeal go beyond the interests of the parties,” the filings said. “Issues of notice and notification affect broad swaths of society and commercial transactions.”
Additionally, the filings note the court’s earlier dismissal has “the potential to impact a broad segment of the Canadian population,” as well as the country’s cannabis retail industry.
Cannabis Canada is BNN Bloomberg’s in-depth series exploring the stunning formation of the entirely new – and controversial – Canadian recreational marijuana industry. Read more from the special series here and subscribe to our Cannabis Canada newsletter to have the latest marijuana news delivered directly to your inbox every day.