There are only 7 retail pot licenses for an area of Ontario the size of Nova Scotia

CBC News has learned only seven retail pot licenses will be available for London, which is included in an area of Western Ontario about the size of Nova Scotia.

The previous Liberal government planned to open 80 stores by July 1st 2019

CBC News has learned only seven retail pot licenses will be available for London, which is included in an area of Western Ontario about the size of Nova Scotia. (Graeme Roy/Canadian Press)

CBC News has learned only seven retail licenses will be available for a large swath of Western Ontario that includes London and stretches from Windsor, north to Manitoulin Island and west to Hamilton and the Niagara Peninsula. 

The area encompasses approximately 50,000 square kilometres, which is roughly the size of Nova Scotia, a province that boasts 12 retail locations.  

The seven retail licenses for Western Ontario will be randomly available across a sprawling area that includes more than a dozen counties and at least five major municipalities, including Windsor, London, Waterloo Region, Guelph, Hamilton and St. Catharines. 

"Under the temporary allocation of licenses, there will be seven retail store licenses awarded for the West region, which includes London," Brian Gray, the spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General said in an email Friday.

"The government remains committed to moving to an open allocation of store licenses to combat the illegal market once we have clarity that there is a sufficient, federally regulated supply of cannabis."

It means would-be pot retailers crossing their fingers that they'll be lucky enough to have their lot drawn when the province holds a lottery to decide which companies will be granted one of 25 available licenses could face some long odds. 

It also means those looking to buy weed at a brick and mortar store may have to make a day trip just to score some bud without having to order online or resort to the black market. 

The Ontario government under Premier Doug Ford originally said it would not cap the number of licenses for pot shops, but then pulled an about-face, capping the number of licenses at 25 because of a national shortage of the product. 

The strategy is a stark departure from the original plan under the previous Liberal government, which promised 80 stand alone government-run stores to be open by July 2019. 

The lottery takes place through the Alcohol Gaming Commission of Ontario on Friday.

The stores are scheduled to open on April 1.