The hurdles of getting a cannabis permit

On Wednesday, Aug. 21, Canada’s province of Ontario announced the winners of their cannabis store lottery, selecting 43 names out of almost 5,000 entrants. Predictably, drama ensued.

One of those lucky 43 lottery selections is linked to an infamous illegal dispensary address. In fact, the lottery winner appears to be a part of the same dispensary chain where Toronto city crews recently put up massive concrete barriers in front of four store locations. If the address connection proves correct, then a “bad actor” (in the eyes of the government) is being awarded a coveted opportunity to apply for a dispensary license thanks to the sheer randomness of a lottery system.

But so goes the world of cannabis business permits. Here’s a rundown of the pros and cons of the two most common processes — application processes and lottery systems — that people are going through to grow, manufacture and sell marijuana on the legal market. Then, we dive into the free-market alternative that Oklahoma is experimenting with, and what it could mean for a simpler permitting solution.

We reached out to one of the nation’s leading authorities on cannabis licensing, Brian Vicente of Vicente Sederberg LLP, to explain why the merit-based application process is so prevalent in new cannabis markets. The law firm has helped people in 28 states and other countries get permitted to take part in the cannabis industry. Vicente leads the firm’s licensing division personally.

“I would say your most common form of licensing is probably your merit-based licensing,” Vicente told Cannabis Now. “We just saw it in Missouri. They got 2,100 applicants on Monday for their limited licenses.”


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