From the look of it, Ontario will have more cannabis when Canada legalizes adult-use cannabis in October than California did when regulations hit the state earlier this summer.
But, unlike California, there will be no grace periods in Canada’s capital province once the legal market kicks off on Oct. 17. The cannabis industry in Ontario will be strictly regulated by the province, which will be selling all of the cannabis themselves, from the first day. But the provincial government won’t be growing the cannabis they’ll sell, so this week, Ontario announced a list of 26 Canadian companies in agreement to be filling their shelves this fall.
“These agreements are a significant milestone that signals our readiness for the legalization of cannabis in Ontario,” said Patrick Ford, president and chief operating officer of the Ontario Cannabis Store, in the announcement. “These agreements will allow us to safely and securely provide a broad variety of cannabis products to adult customers when online sales begin.”
The 26 companies on board for launch day are all authorized Health Canada producers. Some of them will be running their own retail facilities in Canada’s other provinces.
But as for Ontario, the only way to purchase legal marijuana in October will be through the state-backed online portal, at least for this year.
One of the companies that came out a winner in Ontario’s competitive selection process was Canopy Growth Corporation — and this announcement just adds to a great week for Canopy, according to Yahoo Finance. Monday saw shares jump 11 percent in value, following the announcement that the alcohol giant Constellation Brands would invest an additional $4 billion in the cultivation company. Last Wednesday, the day of the original announcement, Canopy stocks jumped 30 percent.
“It’s a huge milestone for Canopy to be selected as an approved supplier by the Ontario Cannabis Store,” said Adam Greenblatt, Canopy’s business development lead for British Columbia. “We’ll have more than 100 SKUs — including dank nugs, pre-rolls, oils and gel caps — available legally to adults in Ontario.”
Under Ontario’s new rules, members of parliament will be able to order some of Canada’s best cuts right to their office. Canopy’s offering will include bud from Tweed Farms, Snoop Dogg’s branded line and all of DNA Genetics’ finest strains. If Justin Trudeau is a Strawberry Banana fan, he will be in luck.
We asked Greenblatt if he was surprised at how much product, albeit by mail, Ontarians will have access to compared to Californians did even six months after the legal market had kicked in. Many California dispensaries that had long been known for their selection found themselves with fewer options than they’d had in years.
“Just another example of how far ahead we are,” Greenblatt quipped, “and perhaps another example of the advantages of federal legalization.”
Unfortunately, Ontario will not have state licensed physical dispensary locations when legal marijuana launched. The Canadian industry is expecting the province to develop a plan for retail locations over the next year, but nothing is set in stone. All that’s for sure is that Ottawa, the capital city of the country, has the local market cornered until further notice.
One big factor in Ottawa will be the numerous unlicensed dispensaries that have popped up in recent years. And these are not small operations. According to the Ottawa Citizen, a staff member at the Cannabis Culture dispensary said the store was seeing up to 1,200 people a day. That is comparable to a decently sized California dispensary for sure.
But Cannabis Culture has already suffered a fate many of its peers wait on. Earlier this year they lost an appeal to prevent their landlord from evicting them. The eviction comes following two raids in 2017, one in March and the other in October. Ten members of Cannabis Culture’s staff currently are making their way through the court system on various charges.
Ottawa has roughly 17 other illegally operating dispensaries.
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