OCS interim CEO sees smooth rollout of 2.0 products, more stores
TORONTO -- Dozens of new marijuana products will be available in retail shops in Ontario starting next week, the province's cannabis distributor said Friday, warning supplies would be limited and the newly legalized edibles could sell out within a week.
The Ontario Cannabis Store said 59 new products, including a variety of vapes, edibles and a tea, will hit store shelves on Monday.
"I want to be clear that initially as products roll out there will be very limited supply when it comes to the variety of products as well as the quantity," agency vice-president David Lobo said. "We know a lot of producers have been working around the clock, particularly through the holidays, to get these products to market."
Health Canada requires manufacturers to provide 60 days' notice of their intention to sell the products and to undergo regulatory screening.
The OCS said it has given the province's retail store owners equal chance to stock the new products and will move quickly to refill supply.
"We expect the supply that's going to come to the initial stores potentially to sell out within the first week," Lobo said. "We replenish stores on a weekly basis. If supply comes to us quicker we can speed that up."
The products will be available on the OCS website on Jan. 16.
Kevin Lam, senior director of merchandising at the agency, estimates the shortage could last until March as manufacturers ramp up production to meet demand.
The number of products will grow to 100 in the coming months as they receive regulatory approval, he added.
Lam said the new products, and their prices, will also enable the legal Ontario shops to compete with the black market.
"We've compared our offerings to similar products in the illegal market to ensure that our initial retail will be competitive," he said.
The new product assortment comes as Ontario's retail cannabis system is set to change dramatically in 2020, with the government scrapping its controversial lottery system to award store licences.
The government had frequently stated an interest in opening up the province's retail market since cannabis became legal in October 2018. But a supply shortfall and the lottery system kept the government well shy of its stated goal of having as many as 1,000 cannabis retailers throughout the province. The first lottery saw just 25 licences issued provincewide, with a further 50 awarded in a second round.
Critics have described the system as excessively slow, arguing the lack of private retail options has prevented the province from making inroads on the illegal weed market.
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.