Ontario’s former top cannabis advisor thinks the province has made the right decision in delaying bricks-and-mortar pot shops months after recreational use of the drug was federally legalized.

“I think the easiest way to have launched it is the way the previous government was going to launch it, and [how] the current government is launching it, with an online offering,” Ed Clark, who currently is the chair of the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence, told BNN Bloomberg in an interview on Thursday.

“I think that means that you can then move ahead [with] how you roll out retail stores; you can learn as you understand the product better.”

Clark, who was TD Bank’s chief executive officer from 2002 to 2014, was picked by former Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to be her chief advisor on the cannabis file in the run-up to its federal legalization on Oct. 17.

Although current Ontario Premier Doug Ford scrapped Wynne’s plan to sell cannabis through a provincially-controlled liquor store model, Clark said the decision to keep online sales through a provincially-run entity – the Ontario Cannabis Store – was the right move.

“At its core, the central supplier should be an online supplier that happens to be owned by the government and that can make sure you either supply retailers as a wholesaler or direct to the consumer,” Clark said.

Some Ontario municipalities have already opted out of being home to physical pot shops, with the Toronto suburbs of Markham and Mississauga already voting to ban them. Ottawa and Toronto city councils voted on Thursday to allow pot shops to operate in their respective cities.

Clark says the delayed rollout will provide more time for consumers and municipal governments to adjust to the realities of pot sales and gather crucial information to make their decisions.

“I think, realistically, as you introduce this you’re going to learn a lot of things,” he said. “This is a brand new product. There’s still a lot of things we have to learn about this product to make sure it’s safe.”

Cannabis Canada is BNN Bloomberg’s in-depth series exploring the stunning formation of the entirely new – and controversial – Canadian recreational marijuana industry. Read more from the special series here and subscribe to our Cannabis Canada newsletter to have the latest marijuana news delivered directly to your inbox every day.