Independent retailers say they’re bearing the biggest brunt of these shortfalls.
Jennawae Cavion, founder and CEO of Kingston, Ont. retailer Calyx+Trichomes, told the National Post they had to temporarily shutter one of their two outlets just to stay in business.
“It’s really scary to have your entire livelihood in the hands of people who are pointing fingers at other people,” she said.
Shop owner Jennawae Cavion says it’s unfortunate and paints a poor portrait of the market in Ontario and Canada, which is the first G7 country to legalize recreational cannabis.
“I hope that infrastructure is put into place so this is avoided in the future, because this is not something that we should, as a private sector, be dealing with when we’re dealing with a government entity – we should be able to trust that our data is being taken care of.”
New data show sales made through Ontario’s legal cannabis channels have overtaken those made through the illicit market for the first time ever.
Pre-rolls captured 19% of the province’s overall cannabis sales, while milled flower sales doubled.
“I see our number-one status as a win for independents overall,” she says. “We did this with our own vision, our own drive and our own investment.”
Jennawae McLean is a long-time cannabis activist who’s strived for gender and racial equity since entering the licensed retail space. Having advocated for legalization, she now serves on the board of NORML Canada, an organization that focuses on cannabis policy reform and public outreach.
“From our perspective, we’re paying a debt owed to the people who fought for legalization,” says CEO and co-founder Jennawae McLean.
Most insurance companies aren’t really looking at cannabis stores right now. It’s even worse than the way banking is for weed businesses, notes McLean.
“We lost in the lottery, not once but twice, but other than that, the lottery was really the only hiccup. Everything else was relatively smooth,” said McLean. “The people at the AGCO and OCS were motivated to help, we submitted our application on Jan 6, 2020 and on Jan 8 they’d already been working on it – they were right on top of it.”