Yesterday, Doug Ford’s government finally made the announcement we’ve all been waiting for, and WOW it was a big one. In a complete 180 turn from the cannabis plan laid out by the Kathleen Wynne regime, Ford’s finance minister said that Ontario will not be in the business of running brick-and-mortar cannabis shops. Here at DispensaryGTA.com we applaud this decision. It was always taught in school that monopolies were bad, so the original idea that the Ontario government was going to have a monopoly on selling weed didn’t seem so great. We knew it wouldn’t work, you knew it wouldn’t work, pretty much everyone (except the Wynne government) knew right from the start that it wouldn’t work. So good riddance! Here’s a breakdown of the key points to the new Ontario cannabis system:
Brick-and-mortar stores will ALL be private.
Don’t expect to walk into a pot shop on October 17, though. The launch date for physical stores has been pushed back to April of 2019. There haven’t been any plans or details laid out to license cannabis stores that are already operating, and we’d expect they’ll have to halt operations.
The government will be the wholesaler.
You didn’t think they’d keep their fingers out of the pie entirely, did you? No, of course not. They’ll still control a big lever on the action by acting as the sole wholesale distributor from which stores will buy their products. So whether you’re an LP growing product or a store selling it, the “middle man” will still be “the man.” It’s not ideal, but it’s still better than we expected, and similar to other provinces like Alberta.
Municipalities can opt-out.
That means that depending on where you live, there might not be any cannabis shops near you. Once the tax revenues start flowing, we feel like this will be less of an issue, but initially there is certain to be some “cannabis deserts” in certain parts of Ontario.
Online shoppers will still have to buy from Ontario Cannabis Store.
Turns out the Ontario Cannabis Store isn’t dead, it’s just going to be online-only. Sorry taxpayers, you won’t be getting a refund for that incredible $650,000 logo. The Ontario Cannabis Store will be the sole online portal for weed shoppers in Ontario. The announcement yesterday maintains that the online store WILL be operational for the big day on October 17. We’re skeptical. There are 14 million people in Ontario, and on day 1 of legalization, the ONLY place they’ll be able to get their weed is a single, government-operated web-store. The infrastructure they’ll need to run this shop is massive. They’ll need multiple warehouses, fully stocked. Hundreds of pickers and shippers working around the clock. A huge customer service staff and program. The list goes on. They selected Shopify to run their online portal back in February, so they’re working on it, but we doubt they’ll be running at full-steam.
What does all this mean for weed smokers in Ontario?
Your dreams of walking into the (legal) pot shop on the corner are going to happen… but not for a while. Big business will be involved, but because there is no cap on the number of store licenses, it looks like smaller entrepreneurs will be able to get in the game too. The OCS online store will be a big bottleneck for the foreseeable future (after it’s launched on October 17), so we feel your current online cannabis dispensary of choice will be the way to go for now.There are many more details that remain to be announced. As always, we’ll keep you updated right here at DispensaryGTA.com.