The cannabis business regulator in Canada’s largest recreational marijuana market has once again increased the pace of business licensing from 20 per week to 30 per week.
The change went into effect on Tuesday, the Ontario Alcohol and Gambling Commission (AGCO) said in a blog post.
The regulator said it had received more than 1,630 cannabis business applications to date, and has issued RSAs (retail store authorizations) to 489 of those locations.
According to AGCO, there are currently 430 licensed cannabis stores open in Ontario and more than 940 applications are pending processing.
Even at the new rate of 120 branch authorizations per month, it will take at least seven months for the current license backlog to be resolved.
“AGCO continues to receive dozens of new applications every week,” said the regulator’s blog post.
As the regulator works through the application backlog, the number of cannabis stores in Ontario is finally approaching that in Alberta, which has 573 licensed cannabis stores.
Ontario just passed 100 store licenses last June.
Tuesday’s announcement marks the third time that AGCO has increased the pace of new cannabis business registrations since September 1, when licensing sped up to around 40 stores per month.
The process was accelerated again in December when AGCO committed to licensing 80 stores per month.
Ontarians bought regulated recreational cannabis worth $ 82.9 million Canadian dollars ($ 65.3 million) in November 2020, or nearly a third of all legal marijuana purchases in Canada that month.