The province’s government-run cannabis retailer is taking orders from stores looking to sell a small selection of pot-infused edibles, extracts, vapes and beverages, but Ontarians will have to wait a few more days to get their fix.
The delivery of the now-legal products is set to begin Monday, David Lobo, the Ontario Cannabis Store’s vice-president of corporate affairs, said at a Friday news conference in North York.
Monday is also the first day stores will be legally allowed to sell the items, but there will likely be a delay before the stores actually have them ready to offer to consumers.
Products should first appear in stores, Lobo said, then online at OCS.ca as early as Jan. 16.
The initial range of items available to stores next week include disposable vape pens, gummies, chocolates, cookies and a tea.
More products will be made available in coming weeks and months, Lobo said, adding producers have released 59 products during the rollout of the second phase of legal cannabis.
“Over the remainder of January into February there will be a lot more vape products, as well as soft chews and chocolate,” Lobo said. “We expect by February or March for the supply to rapidly improve.”
Lobo said in the first few weeks there will be a “limited supply in terms of variety and quantity of products,” though he does not anticipate the rollout will be as slow as what was experienced during the initial release of dried flowers.
He said 27 stores are cleared to sell the products, with more coming in a month or two.
Topicals — pot-infused lotions, balms and oils — won’t be available until late February and March.
Prices vary, with a 355-millilitre beverage can, which won’t be available until February, selling for between $4-5, while chocolates and most confectionery items will run you anywhere from $7.50 to $16.
The Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation, operating as the Ontario Cannabis Store, is the government-run legal retailer of recreational cannabis via its online store, and as a wholesale supplier to private stores.
Dave Crapper, spokesperson for Toronto store Nova Cannabis, confirmed that they have received the list of available items, but cautioned buyers should be patient.
“We have no idea when those orders are going to be filled,” he said. “We don’t know when we will be able to start serving those products.”
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Crapper said he’s hopeful the rollout will be faster than it was in Alberta, where it can take up to 10 days for orders to be filled. That may be a result of there being a lot more stores vying for products in Alberta, where Nova is also present, he said.
Cannabis edibles and topicals were legalized in October, but there was a delay in the release to stores due to Health Canada’s 60-day review and approval process before they were cleared for sale.
Lobo said Health Canada is taking a “cautious approach” with the launch to avoid things like accidental consumption.
Under federal regulations, the OCS can provide stores with products with up to 10 milligrams of THC per edible package — meaning a package of five-milligram gummies would contain two each — while vapes can offer a broader range of the active ingredient.
OCS spokesperson Daffyd Roderick said the retailer is aware of recent reports of health risks linked to some vaping products, adding everything it sells is Health Canada approved.
“We count on Health Canada as the expert,” Roderick said.
Limited inventory and spotty distribution are just some of the growing pains consumers will have to cope with as the new range of products hit the market, says Mitchell Osak, a cannabis expert at the consulting firm MNP.
“It’s unrealistic to expect that everything is going to be ready on the day of legalization,” Osak said Friday.
He said Health Canada’s review period and tight timelines placed on producers led to delays in the new “Cannabis 2.0” products.
“It’s starting a bit slow, but it will be going up exponentially over the next six months,” he said.
Of greater concern to Osak, is the limited amount of shelf space in Ontario.
“Even if you have 700 products, you will likely not see them stocked in every store,” he said. “There are physical limitations.”
He said distribution channels will remain clogged until more stores open.
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