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Will Ontario Have Cannabis In time for Oct. 17?

With 10 weeks to go before recreational cannabis becomes legal, suspicions are emerging that Ontario may not have ordered any product for its customers.

Press releases issued by five high-profile licensed producers point towards numerous contracts made with most provinces, but not Ontario. For example, In July, four LPs unveiled contracts to supply Alberta: Canopy Growth 15,000 kg; Aurora 25,000 kg; Aphira 870 kg; and Medreleaf an unspecified quantity.

Licensed producers usually announce supply deals with territories and provinces, and this has been the case with Quebec, Yukon, Newfoundland, BC, PEI, Labrador and Manitoba, but Ontario is conspicuous by its absence.

As the countdown to legalization continues, it’s still not clear what Ontario’s plans are. In late July, rumours were swirling that private retailers may get the go-ahead to operate, but it’s still not clear if this is case. If this were to happen, there is no indication if they would replace public sector stores or operate alongside them.

Should private licensed retail stores open, it would be an about-face from the plans laid out by the previous Liberal government, which made its intentions clear that the cannabis retail system be completely run by the public sector.

Earlier this year, the Ontario Cannabis Store issued a call to suppliers, but it has not made any public announcements since April.

What do Producers Say?

Aphria spokesperson Olivia Pineau confirms that the company had not signed a supply contract with the province, saying:

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

Only last week, the London Free Press reported that the province had put a hiring freeze on the Cannabis Intelligence Coordination Centre, which is a police agency designed to close dispensaries after legalization comes into effect.

Following October 17, Ontario residents will not be allowed to order cannabis from other provinces, but will be able to bring it in personally from elsewhere in the country so long as they stay within the federal 30-gram limit.