The Ontario government's plan to delay the roll-out of brick-and-mortar recreational marijuana stores in the province weighed on shares of Canada's pot companies in early trading on Tuesday, but one long-time Wall Street observer believes investors should be fired up about the decision.
Ontario is targeting a launch date of April, 2019, for in-store sales, according to the sources, who all spoke on the condition of anonymity. The OCS will also be the wholesaler to private retail stores, the government said.
These changes come almost two months before the federal government is set to legalize recreational marijuana on October 17. The Ontario government will remain the only legal cannabis distributor in the province.
Fedeli said the OCS, which until Monday had been in charge of setting up government-run pot stores planned under the former Liberal regime, had spent $6.7 million and hired 50 employees.
Municipalities will also have a one-time window where they can opt out of allowing private marijuana stores in their municipalities.
Robert Schwartz, a University of Toronto professor specializing in cannabis distribution and public health, said it's hard to imagine the Tory government's private model would be safer than the previous plan. "And under no circumstances will we tolerate anybody sharing, selling or otherwise providing cannabis to anybody under the age of 19", said Mulroney. The province still needs to conduct consultations, go through a tender process and award retail licenses and it "seems very plausible that could take a year as opposed to six months", Bottomley said.
As well, Mulroney said the government will look into any issues of people travelling outside Canada who may be concerned about an online trail of marijuana purchases. "We will be ready to work alongside municipalities, law enforcement and Indigenous communities to combat organized crime and the illegal market".
The executive director for the association, Allan Rewak, said it removes the cost of brick-and-mortar retail from taxpayers and instead puts it on the private sector to deliver.
A press release from the Ontario government said the online portal will also "include a verification system that will ensure safe at home delivery for cannabis products".
Cannabis isn't as addictive as tobacco, Schwartz said, but those that are prone to addiction could be more at risk with cannabis being sold through the private sector.
Avtar Dhillon, board chair for the Cannabis Council of Canada, a group overseeing the interests of licensed producers in Canada, said this move from Ontario will create a "truly competitive and inclusive landscape that will allow for law-abiding companies to more quickly replace the bad apples in the cannabis space". The Edmonton-based marijuana grower plans to be a "significant" retail player in Ontario's market with its partner Alcanna Inc., said chief corporate officer Cam Battley. "Beyond that it ultimately may end up putting pressure on other governments to consider their own system, to consider opening it up".
"We'll have more details when we announce the retail rollout", he said.