Ont. cannabis retailer fined $200K over alleged inducements

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A chain of cannabis stores in Ontario has been fined $200,000 after it allegedly asked cannabis producers for inducements in exchange for preferential treatment in its stores.

Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario said in a news release Monday that Cannabis Xpress allegedly violated Ontario’s regulatory standards related to provincial anti-inducement laws.

The AGCO alleges Cannabis Xpress’ asked producers to participate in its “data service,” which was an indirect way to request money or a percentage of sales in exchange for preferential treatment of producers, and would disadvantage those who did not participate.

“Provincial law and AGCO standards include anti-inducement regulations to protect consumer choice and maintain a level playing field for small businesses in the cannabis retail industry,” AGCO CEO Karin Schnarr said in a news release.

“The AGCO monitors the sector’s compliance with these requirements and will take strong action against any licensee found to be engaging in illegal behaviour.”

The ACGO alleges that in some cases, Cannabis Xpress would refuse to stock a producer unless it entered into such an agreement and tried to disguise the operation as data for business intelligence matters, which is allowed.

Cannabis Xpress did not immediately respond to a request for comment.