Ontario’s finance minister said the province will be ready with “robust supply” when recreational cannabis becomes legal on Oct. 17, but there’s still a lot left of work to be done before it can sell cannabis in stores.
“We have various suppliers to Ontario – numerous, actually – suppliers from across the country, including many in Ontario that will supply [cannabis],” Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli told BNN Bloomberg in an interview Monday, noting the names of those suppliers will be released at a later date. “And the [Ontario] Cannabis Store will be the wholesaler industry bidder.”
“There is certainly going to be a robust supply ready for us on Oct. 17,” he added.
Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government announced Monday an overhaul to the former Liberal government’s retail rollout plan for recreational cannabis.
The PCs said pot sales in Canada’s most populous province will begin online Oct. 17, but the first bricks-and-mortar stores won’t open until April 2019, nearly six months after legalization takes effect. The government also confirmed it will use a private retail model and said municipalities will be able to opt out.
Fedeli said because of the major change to the plan, consultations need to take place with municipalities, First Nations groups, law enforcement officials, public health and businesses before cannabis can be sold in stores.
“That’s going to take time. We just do not want to be rushed,” Fedeli said. “The safety of our children is the absolute, paramount issue.”
The demand for recreational cannabis and the value of the industry when marijuana becomes legal is still unknown. Canada’s recreational cannabis market is estimated to be worth close to $6.5 billion by 2020, and could even top sales of spirits in the country, according to a May report from CIBC analysts.
“All the data that we have is all based on the illegal market,” Fedeli said. “So it’s very difficult to be able to really use any of that data. So everybody entering this market on Oct. 17 – we’re all going to be entering uncharted waters.”
“We’ll be ready for robust sales – and quite frankly, we’ll have to see.”