Lawyers for disqualified pot shop applicants say process was unfair

Lawyers for disqualified pot shop applicants say process was unfair

TORONTO — A legal battle over Ontario’s licensing system for retail cannabis stores focused Wednesday on the steps taken by the province to contact a number of applicants who were later disqualified for failing to file documents by a certain date.

The group of 11 applicants is challenging the rejection and disputing the fairness of the procedures involved in the lottery that has been used to grant all of Ontario’s pot shop licences.

At a hearing in Toronto, the group’s lawyers argued Wednesday that under the rules set out by the provincial agency overseeing the process, those who win the chance to apply must submit certain documents within five business days once they are notified of their selection.

They said an email alerting their clients of the lottery’s outcome and the application timeline did not go through, and as such, the deadline should have been recalculated based on when the message was actually delivered.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario “just determined that the attempt-to-notify was sufficient” to trigger the countdown, which is unfair and unreasonable, attorney Michael Lacy told a three-judge panel.

As a result, he argued, the commission was not entitled to disqualify the 11 applicants or to select a new slate of applicants to replace them. The group should be allowed to complete the application process and the others returned to the wait list, he said.

Lawyers representing the commission, however, said the eliminated applicants were to blame for the email bouncing back since they provided the address and chose that method of communication.

What’s more, Judie Im argued, the commission then followed up with telephone calls, posted the list of lottery winners online and eventually sent letters by courier. Many of the calls failed to reach the applicants and three never picked up the packages, she said.

When they did receive a letter notifying them of their selection, the applicants should have seen that it was dated Aug. 21 and laid out a deadline of Aug. 28, she added.

“The fault… lies with them and not the registrar,” Im said, noting none of the applicants sought to clarify the deadline or obtain an extension.

Even if the commission is found to have erred in disqualifying the group, the newly chosen applicants should not be penalized for that mistake, said lawyer Robin Linley, who represents some of them.

Linley said his clients have already taken steps to meet the application criteria.

The dispute largely revolves over what it means to be notified, and whether delivery or receipt of the message is required, Ontario Superior Court Justice David Corbett said.

Earlier this month, Corbett paused the licensing process for the latest round of cannabis stores until the case is resolved. The panel is set to present its decision on Monday.

Lawyers representing the commission had contested the stay, saying it would interfere with the integrity of the lottery system. There was also opposition from lawyers representing the applicants selected to replace those eliminated.

So far, there have been two rounds of the government lottery to determine who can apply to open cannabis stores. The first involved 25 spots and the second 42.

Lottery winners have five business days to turn in their application, along with a $6,000 non-refundable fee and a $50,000 letter of credit.

The legal challenge may affect the government’s timeline to increase the number of legal pot shops in the province.

Just Posted

Chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says the National Advisory Committee on Immunization has advised that Pfizer and Moderna vaccines can be used interchangeably for second doses and Alberta is following that approach. (File photo by The Canadian Press)
Red Deer down to 66 active COVID-19 cases

Red Deer has lowest number of active cases since last November

(Advocate file photo).
Red Deer drivers warned about temporary lane closure on 67th Street

Power line will be rebuilt in six-month project

road consturction
Road closures at Red Deer hospital next week

Red Deer drivers are advised of road closures in the vicinity of… Continue reading

(Advocate file photo)
Police investigating: Westaskiwin man killed in collision last Friday

Man’s vehicle collided with gravel truck on Highway 2A near Wetaskiwin

Black Horse Singers performed for students at Ecole la Prairie on Monday. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Students remind Red Deer that every child matters on National Indigenous Day

Heart-shaped messages to decorate trees at Ecole la Prairie through the summer

Memphis Grizzlies forward Dillon Brooks (24) gestures to teammates during the first half of Game 5 of their NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday, June 2, 2021, in Salt Lake City.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Rick Bowmer
After months of speculation, Canada’s men’s basketball roster set ahead of qualifier

With a tantalizingly deep pool of talent, Canada’s men’s basketball roster has… Continue reading

Montreal Canadiens' Corey Perry can't get the puck past Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner as he is held back by defenceman Nick Holden during first period game 4 NHL Stanley Cup playoff hockey semifinal action in Montreal, Sunday, June 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Canadiens look to turn the page after terrific Game 4 performance ends in defeat

MONTREAL — Corey Perry has seen plenty throughout his 16 NHL seasons… Continue reading

Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky poses for a photo in Toronto on Monday, October 17, 2016. Two of Canada's most prominent athletes are part of the ownership group of a new Las Vegas National Lacrosse League franchise. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michelle Siu
Wayne Gretzky, Steve Nash join forces with Las Vegas lacrosse team

LAS VEGAS — Wayne Gretzky’s trade to the Los Angeles Kings in… Continue reading

Nelly Korda holds the trophy after winning the Meijer LPA Classic golf tournament, Sunday, June 20, 2021, in Grand Rapids, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
Nelly Korda wins in Michigan for 2nd victory of year

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Nelly Korda became the first two-time winner on… Continue reading

Jon Rahm, of Spain, holds the champions trophy for photographers after the final round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship, Sunday, June 20, 2021, at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Rahm finds perspective to go with passion and wins a U.S. Open

SAN DIEGO — Jon Rahm’s road to becoming a U.S. Open champion… Continue reading

The Lime-S electric scooter is pictured in Toronto on Thursday, Sept. 27, 2018. When shared e-scooter companies rolled into Canada in 2018, they hoped a few small pilots would quickly result in a country full of people zipping around on two wheels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Giordano Ciampini
Despite the rough ride, e-scooter companies are bullish on Canada

TORONTO — When shared e-scooter companies rolled into Canada in 2018, they… Continue reading

Inter Pipeline's Heartland Petrochemical Complex is shown under construction in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., on Thursday, January 10, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Inter Pipeline rejects revised hostile takeover offer by Brookfield Infrastructure

CALGARY — Inter Pipeline Ltd. has rejected a revised hostile takeover offer… Continue reading

A crowded Maid of the Mist tour boat operated from the American side of the Niagara River is seen from Niagara Falls, Ont., on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. The travel industry says the federal government’s new border measures for fully vaccinated Canadians are a step in the right direction but don't provide enough clarity on what travel will look like for consumers this summer. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel
Travel industry says new border rules don’t provide enough clarity

HALIFAX — The travel industry says the federal government’s new border measures… Continue reading

Most Read