With 10 weeks to go till legalization, Ontario doesn’t appear to have ordered any pot

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With 10 weeks to go until legalization, Ontario doesn’t appear to have ordered any pot
WATCH ABOVE: Global News has learned the province has not signed any supply contracts with the countries five major marijuana producers. Does that point to privatization of the provincial pot industry or is the government just not prepared? Jamie Mauracher reports – Aug 8, 2018

With 10 weeks to go until marijuana legalization, Global News cannot find any evidence that any cannabis has been ordered for Ontario consumers.

A survey of news releases for investors issued by five major licenced producers (LPs) going back to last year shows contracts large and small with most provinces, but not Ontario.

On July 5, for example, four LPs announced supply contracts with Alberta for that province’s first six months of legalization. Canopy Growth will supply 15,000 kilograms, Aurora 25,000 kilograms, Aphira 870 kilograms and Medreleaf an unspecified quantity.

LPs often announce large supply deals with provinces and territories — Quebec, British Columbia, YukonManitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador and PEI.

Prominent by its absence, though, is Canada’s most populous province.

As the clock ticks toward legalization, it’s not clear what Ontario’s plans for selling cannabis are. A Globe and Mail story in late July asserted that the PCs would bring in government-operated online sales and let the private sector run bricks-and-mortar stores. It’s not clear whether these stores would co-exist with public-sector stores or replace them.

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That would be a change of approach from the one designed by Ontario’s previous Liberal government, which called for a completely public-sector cannabis retail system.

The Globe‘s story has been neither confirmed nor contradicted. Ontario has not announced its new approach to cannabis or said when it will do so.

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The Ontario Cannabis Store has not made a public announcement since early April.

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Earlier this year, the OCS issued a product call to would-be cannabis suppliers, with a deadline of May 2. They were asked to submit a detailed report on the cannabis products they wanted to sell, providing 120 separate pieces of information about each, from strength to the quantities that would be available on a series of dates to quality (‘good,’ better’ or ‘best’.)

However, it’s not clear whether the OCS went on to award contracts based on the information provided.

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We asked the OCS for details about what producers they had signed supply contracts with, for what quantities, and in what forms.

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“We’re continuing to work with prospective licensed producers, and will be providing an update soon,” an OCS spokesperson wrote in an e-mail in which he asked not to be identified.

“The Ontario Cannabis Store is focused on ensuring the province is ready for cannabis legalization, and is committed to working closely with the Ontario government.”

Aphria doesn’t have a supply contract signed with Ontario, spokesperson Olivia Pineau confirmed.

“It’s definitely something that hasn’t been finalized at this point, but we still have some time before legalization,” she said. “I think all licenced producers, including Aphria, are preparing behind the scenes and are ready to negotiate and sign those agreements when the time comes.”

“In terms of there being enough supply, I think all licenced producers at this point are working their best to ensure that that’s the main objective. We don’t want that to be a concern.”

The situation raises questions about what would happen after Oct. 17 if recreational marijuana is legal, but Ontario hasn’t set up a legal retail system — bricks-and-mortar or online — capable of coping with demand.

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WATCH: Extended tour of Canada’s largest government-approved pot greenhouse
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Extended tour of Canada’s largest government-approved pot greenhouse

Last week, the London Free Press reported that Ontario had put hiring on hold for the Cannabis Intelligence Coordination Centre, a police agency designed to shut down dispensaries after legalization.

Under legalization, Ontario residents won’t be allowed to order marijuana from other provinces, but will be able to personally bring it in from elsewhere in the country, so long as they stay within the federal limit of 30 grams.

(Ironically, some of Canada’s biggest cannabis production facilities are in Ontario — Aphira’s vast greenhouse in Leamington, for example, or Canopy Growth’s 500,000-square-foot converted chocolate factory in Smiths Falls.)

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