Cannabis retailers will soon be able to sell products online or over the phone for in-store pick-up as the Ontario government adopts a “click-and-connect” sales model to expand access to legal marijuana.
Finance Minister Rod Phillips announced the proposed changes in the government’s fall economic statement Wednesday, saying they will decrease waits for cannabis and help combat the black market.
The shift comes as the Progressive Conservative government pledges to lift a cap it imposed on the number of cannabis stores in Ontario.
“All of the provincial jurisdictions are learning and trying to make sure that we take the best approach,” Phillips said. “Our priorities are getting rid of black market cannabis and safety in our communities.”
The government had initially said there would be no cap on the number of retail pot shops after cannabis was legalized. That decision marked a change of course from the previous Liberal government, which created the Ontario Cannabis Store and had planned to tightly control cannabis sales through government-owned stores similar to the LCBO.
But a supply shortage prompted the Tory government last December to cap the initial number of pot retail licences to just 25 so operators would be able to open.
The number of legal pot outlets in Ontario is increasing from 25 to 75 this fall.
The government also said Wednesday it will allow licensed producers to have retail stores on each of their production sites to further increase access.
The Tories had planned to allow that after coming to power in 2018 but did not enact the necessary regulations when the supply shortage caused them to cap the number of retail stores.
The government said Wednesday it will amend legislation and provincial regulations to make the changes but has given no immediate timeline when they will take effect.
Omar Yar Khan, a vice-president at strategy firm Hill+Knowlton who advises cannabis sector clients, said the changes will help encourage customers to move from the black market to legal retailers.