Toronto

Cannabis retail plans proceeding despite losing lottery, Toronto company says

A Toronto businessman whose company didn't win the lottery to apply to open a cannabis store in Ontario says business plans have not changed despite the setback.

'We're coming,' says Jeremy Potvin, CEO and co-founder of Weedbox

Ontario has announced the first 25 companies that can apply for cannabis retail licences in the province, but those not on the list say they are not giving up just yet. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

A Toronto businessman whose company didn't win the lottery to apply to open a cannabis store in Ontario says his business plans have not changed despite the setback.

Jeremy Potvin, CEO and co-founder of Weedbox, which describes itself a millenial-focused cannabis retail company, said the lottery results were "frustrating for sure" but the company has two stores under construction in Toronto and plans to expand to B.C. and California. 

"This is a minor inconvenience for us," Potvin told CBC Radio's Metro Morning on Monday.

"They have maybe a six-to-eight month head start. By the end of the year, you will see 150 stores. We're moving forward. We're coming."

Potvin, whose company runs an online cannabis accessories store, said the lottery results were disappointing because two-thirds of the winners were sole proprietors with some having no background at all in the cannabis industry.

Jeremy Potvin, CEO and co-founder of Weedbox, which describes itself a millenial-focused cannabis retail company, says business plans are proceeding even though the company didn't win the pot shop lottery. (CBC)

"For the first hour or so, yes, it was disappointing. We have a big team. We have been working toward this for two years," he said.

Being a sole proprietor means limited access to funding, he said. 

"They have a lot to catch up on. There's a lot to consider."

Weedbox is not on the province's official wait list to apply but it plans to reapply whenever the province accepts the next batch of applications, which Potvin said he hopes will be a "merit-based" process as opposed to a lottery.

The winners of the pot licence lottery were announced on the weekend. Hear from one of the lucky people who will now have a chance to snag one of 25 licences in Ontario to sell pot in a brick and mortar store. We also speak with one of the people who lost out. 13:36

The company is also open to business talks with people who did win the lottery.

"We are preparing for the next wave," he said in a later interview with CBC Toronto.

Winners have until Friday to submit store application

On Friday, the Ontario government announced the first 25 companies that can apply for cannabis retail licences in the province. The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has published a full list.

Those selected have until Jan. 18 at 5 p.m. to turn in their applications along with a $6,000 non-refundable fee and a $50,000 letter of credit.

The licences were divided regionally, with five going to the east of the province, seven in the west, two in the north, six in the Greater Toronto Area and five in Toronto itself. 

Winners in the Toronto region were listed as: Heather Conlon; Seyedarash Seyedameri; Colin Campbell; Dana Michele Kendal; and Hunny Gawri.

Winners of the pot shop lottery have until Jan. 18 at 5 p.m. to turn in their applications along with a $6,000 non-refundable fee and a $50,000 letter of credit. (Tijana Martin/Canadian Press)

Recreational cannabis can currently only be purchased legally in Ontario through a government-run website, with the first private stores set to open April 1. 

Attorney General Caroline Mulroney has said the province will lift the cap on the number of stores in the province once the federal government addresses supply issues. 

Brampton man 'very happy' to be winner

Brampton businessman Clint Seukeran, owner of CGS Foods Inc, a coconut water importing company, was one of the winners but admitted on Monday in an interview with Metro Morning that he has no experience in the cannabis industry.

"I was very happy to be selected as one of the successful applicants to be part of this new movement in Ontario," he said on Monday.

"My lack of experience doesn't really preclude me from being successful in the cannabis industry. I have a background in food science."

Seukeran, who has an MBA from the University of Guelph, said he is interested in cannabis because he sees it as an extension of his interest in the health food industry. He said he doesn't just want to be a "capitalist" but is interested in doing good work and creating "something beautiful and fantastic for Ontario."

He acknowledged a number of "pioneers" paved the way for the lottery and that a number of requirements have to be met by Friday. 

"The hill is quite steep, absolutely. I am very well prepared to accept that challenge. We are going to embark on it and take our best shot at it."

Here's the full list of those who won a cannabis retail licence in the AGCO lottery:

East region

  • Daniel Telio
  • Brandon Long
  • Patterson and Lavoie
  • Pure Alpha Holdings​
  • Karan Someshwar

GTA region

  • Guruveer Singh Sangha
  • David Nguyen​
  • Tripsetter Inc.
  • Alexander Altman
  • CGS Foods Inc.
  • Gary Hatt

North region

  • Anton Lucic
  • Saturninus Partners

Toronto region:

  • Heather Conlon
  • Seyedarash Seyedameri 
  • Colin Campbell 
  • Dana Michele Kendal
  • Hunny Gawri 

West region

  • Steven Fry
  • Lisa A Bigioni
  • Ranjit Basra
  • 2674253 Ontario Inc.​
  • Santino J Coppolino
  • Christopher Comrie
  • The Niagara Herbalist

With files from Metro Morning, The Canadian Press

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.