In all my life I never expected to be so engaged in politics--let alone have some vague awareness of when the provincial government intends to release a budget. I guess I am a grown up now--because I waited for that budget with bated breath on Wednesday. After a 5-month summer vacation (which was just a way to keep the focus on the federal conservatives during the election), Doug Ford and the rest of the provincial parliament finally got back to work last Monday. We waited for so long to hear some more news about allocation and when the licensing would open up. We were, of course, disappointed again. While the cons confirmed that open allocation is the ultimate goal, this isn't new information, this was always the plan.
They did release a little new information--that Licensed Producers would finally have farm-gate sales. This means people who visit their facilities (which are mostly in the middle of nowhere) would be able to purchase cannabis from the facility while they are there. Sorta like when you go to a winery and you can, logically, purchase wine while you are there. The Licensed Producers are going to be allowed to open up retail stores related to their sites (which I am right now interpreting to mean onsite but I'm sure I will be wrong about that and we will see corporate stores open up in major city centres).
The OCS has created an extra headache for the province, especially with legalization 2.0 products--they don't have any room to warehouse and store it. They thought they were getting into the weed game, they didn't realize that the weed game is actually a logistics game. Transportation and delivery of products to stores has become a challenge for them. The OCS is engaging with Licensed Producers to have them deliver to stores directly (which is really the way it should be--the OCS shouldn't exist at all).
Finally, I am pleased to see that licensed cannabis stores will be able to offer a click-and-collect option. We should be able to ship to customers directly which other provinces allow (because Canada Post is already handling delivery), but at least this is something. I work really hard on our website (in fact I am updating right now and we should have a new experience ready for you next week) so it would be better for us to be able to use it as an asset. It will cut down on lines and waiting in stores big time. We already have a lot of customers who shop online, and pick up in store when they come. This is no different and a logical step forward.
Here is the full statement from the Ford government released Wednesday:
The Ontario government is taking a responsible approach to opening cannabis stores across the province, allowing private-sector businesses to build a safe and convenient retail system to combat the illegal market. The government is also working with First Nation communities in relation to the process for authorizing retail stores in their communities. The government remains committed to moving to an open allocation of cannabis retail store licences where the number of stores is limited only by market demand.
The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) is engaging with federally licensed cannabis producers and authorized retail stores to get their perspectives on increasing private‑sector participation in the delivery of recreational cannabis to stores across Ontario. This work will help inform the government’s approach to the ongoing development of the provincial retail and distribution system.
In preparation for the move to an open allocation of retail store licences, the government is also proposing to amend legislation to facilitate the establishment of retail stores by licensed producers related to their production sites, which would further increase consumer access to legal retail stores.
The government is also proposing to amend legislation to allow authorized retail stores to sell cannabis products online or over the phone for pick-up by the consumer in-store, which is known as click-and-collect. This would help ensure consumers’ preferred cannabis products are available and would decrease wait times at retail stores.