Article by Michael J. Armstrong, Hamilton Spectator
Cannabis retailing wasn’t Doug Ford’s top priority when he’s sworn-in as premier last week. But it’s on his agenda. As he said the previous week, “The stated goal … is to ensure that we can tackle the illegal market.” To prepare for that goal, he and his ministers have work to do this summer.
They can start at the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC). Although Ontario was the first province to pass legislation, OCRC’s behind in preparing for sales.
One concern is that it hasn’t any cannabis to sell. OCRC asked growers to submit offers in April, but hasn’t announced any contracts yet.
By contrast, Quebec already had six supply contracts signed in April. Other provinces have since announced their own.
OCRC’s retail preparations also seem stalled. It announced its first four store addresses on April 11, but hasn’t posted any updates since then. A reporter who visited the proposed Toronto site last week found just a papered-over storefront.
By contrast, last month New Brunswick showed reporters one of its 11 already-finished outlets. It had nine more undergoing renovation.
Store numbers are something else Ford should discuss with OCRC. New Brunswick’s 20 stores will serve its 760,000 residents. By comparison, Ontario is planning only 40 this year to serve 14 million people. It has almost 20 times the population, but only double the store count.