Ontario residents will soon be able to view inventories of local cannabis stores online and reserve products for same-day pickup, Cannabis Professional has learned.
The change will be announced as part of the Ontario government’s fiscal update on Wednesday afternoon, according to a senior government source, and is expected to take effect next month. Cannabis stores in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick already offer click-and-collect services, but the Crown-owned Ontario Cannabis Store had previously enjoyed a monopoly on all cannabis e-commerce in Canada’s largest consumer market.
The OCS will still have a monopoly on delivery, said the source, who requested anonymity as the source was not authorized to disclose the change in advance of the fiscal update, but physical cannabis stores will be able to have an e-commerce presence.
Last month, the province launched industry consultations over potentially ending the OCS monopoly on cannabis wholesale distribution as well. Those talks have since been completed, but no change to cannabis distribution rules will be included in Wednesday’s fiscal update, the source said, nor will the update authorize more stores to open in Ontario. A second source will knowledge of the government’s plan also said there will be no update on the distribution or store numbers on Wednesday.
The OCS had previously explored the idea of allowing private companies to handle same-day deliveries for purchases made on the OCS website earlier this year, but the government pot retailer cancelled the private tender process for that plan in April. Spokesperson Amanda Winton said the OCS is “currently operating tests and will be launching a [same-day and next-day delivery] pilot program in Toronto in the near future.”
The update will also address farm gate cannabis stores, the source said, but will stop short of authorizing cannabis cultivation facilities from moving forward with wine vineyard-style direct-to-consumer sales. Instead, the source said, the update will clarify that once farm gate sales are allowed, they can occur on a site that is physically separate from the cultivation facility itself.
Many cultivation facilities are not conducive to tourism or large groups of visitors, given security features such as tall walls and barbed wire, the source said, noting the change on Wednesday will allow farm gate sales to occur on locations near grow sites rather than only allowing co-location. Exactly how far a farm gate store can be from an actual farm, the source said, will be determined at a later date.