Article by Now Toronto
Ontario is behind the times when it comes to cannabis retail in Canada.
The last cannabis lottery was a complete gong show, with no new stores open to date due to lawsuits slowing down the process.
Now the province has announced a pilot project in Toronto for same-day and next-day delivery through its online retailer, the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS).
Same day delivery will cost you $14. For $12, you can make sure your supply arrives the next day. Except it’s for a service that local Toronto dealers and illicit dispensaries are already providing for free.
The OCS, which had initially offered three-day delivery for $5, had previously put out tenders for same-day delivery. But that idea was nixed by the Ford government.
Despite having a full year to roll out cannabis retail, Premier Doug Ford announced that “It’s been an interesting time because everyone is kind of blazing a new trail and we’re going to get it down pat.”
Ontario certainly has a long way to go compared to provinces like Alberta, which has 300 stores. In Saskatchewan and Manitoba, stores are already delivering directly to consumers.
As the most populous province, Ontario accounted for the highest cannabis sales this year despite having the fewest retail outlets of any province, with 24 stores. Ontario also has the highest concentration of cannabis license holders in Canada.
The lack of retail outlets has been blamed for poor sales across Canada in the first year of legalization. That number sits at around $1 billion nationally. But sales have been declining since the fall with many consumers still buying illegal cannabis.
Meanwhile, in BC, the province is welcoming legacy retailers who were selling prior to legalization. Some 70 per cent of current retail outlets that were doing business prior to legalization have been brought into the legal fold.
Ontario promised to bring illegal dispensaries into the fold if they shut down prior to legalization, but a year later we are all still waiting. That’s why when the Ontario government announced plans to lift the current cap on the number of retail outlets last week, cannabis companies were quick to jump on the opportunity.