Tri-cities to consider or accept private pot retailers

Tri-cities to consider or accept private pot retailers

Doug Ford's Progressive Conservative Ontario government announced this afternoon that it will be rolling out online sales of marijuana when it becomes legal in October.

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.

Several cannabis companies and business groups are applauding the Ontario government's new plan to add private retailers to its plans for the sale of recreational pot in the province.

As announced in February, Ontario will be using Shopify Inc.'s e-commerce platform for all transactions and will utilize a cloud-based model that allows for seamless market integration across in-store, mobile, desktop, and other online platforms.

The previous Liberal government had planned to give the Liquor Control Board of Ontario a monopoly on the sale of recreational cannabis.

Shopify declined an interview requested by IT World Canada for this story and provided a statement that Shopify "supports every retail model".

"By harnessing the power of the private sector, while responsibly regulating cannabis sales for adults, the government of Ontario has removed the capital and operational costs of bricks and mortar retail from taxpayers and shifted this burden to the private sector: A move that will save the treasury countless millions", said Allan Rewak, executive director of the Cannabis Council of Canada, an industry group representing major medical marijuana producers, in a release.

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ITWC reached out to LCBO for this article but did not receive a comment in time for deadline.

But the PC government insists private retailers will be "regulated" and have to follow provincial rules.

Ontario's Progressive Conservative government said Monday it will start cannabis sales with an online-only retail model when marijuana is legalized on October 17, followed by private retail sales on April 1. "Instead, we will work with private sector businesses to build a safe, reliable retail system that will divert sales away from the illegal market".

As for which establishments will ultimately be permitted to sell marijuana, Mulroney said that will be the subject of extensive consultation in the coming months.

"We will be ready to put in place a safe, legal system for cannabis retail that will protect consumers", said Mulroney in a news release.

The province says it will learn from the private models being implemented in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. "We will also be ready to undermine the illegal market and protect Ontario's roads". There also remains significant questions about the number of retail permits that will be available, and how retailers will qualify for such permits.

"We look forward to engaging the Ontario government on potential retail locations", he said.

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