As the clock struck one minute past midnight, eager bud-beavers were able to place orders of cannabis on the province’s online store.
The Ontario Cannabis Store has products from dozens of different suppliers, each labelled with the level of Tetrahydrocannabinol(THC) and Cannabidiol(CBD) inside, as tested by Health Canada.
The site launched with a tag line that reads “Shop legal. It’s better to know what’s in your cannabis.”
Once a person selects products to order, they will be shipped from a warehouse in an undisclosed part of the GTA via Canada Post, and then will be delivered to the customer.
Buyers have to verify they are over the age of 19 three different times during the ordering process, but will not have to prove their age before completing a purchase, unlike other jurisdictions like Alberta. If a buyer accepting a package containing cannabis appears to be younger than 25, the Canada Post delivery person may ask for identification to verify the age.
The delivery time is expected to be between one and three days. The shipments fee is $5.
It is legal in Ontario to smoke pot anywhere cigarette smoking is allowed, except inside a car or on a boat. The Markham city council, however, enacted a bylaw on Tuesday that prohibits smoking in public areas.
Retail stores have yet to be established in Ontario, but the government has signaled its intention to accept licensing applications at a future date. The brick-and-mortar stores would be privately-run. Any dispensaries operating in the province right now remain illegal, according to the provincial government.
Speaking to CP24 on Wednesday morning, Ontario’s minister of finance Vic Fedeli says the province is waiting until April 1st to open physical stores to “see what other provinces do.”
“We wanted meet the federal law, because it is a federally-enacted law, so that’s why we went online. We really want to see what other provinces do in terms of their bricks and mortar. How it evolves. Learn from their challenges,” Fedeli said.
“We went with a private retail model and so shortly we will open up the opportunity for licences.”
Fedeli called the process for verifying a customer’s age “rigorous.”
“The products are shipped to your door… and only to you,” he said.
“Information is not kept. You do not have to build an account. Every time you go on you go through the same process.”
As of 8 a.m., some quantities of select strains had already sold out on the site.
When asked about how an impending Canada Post strike could impact the sale of cannabis, the finance minister noted that the province has a contingency plan.
“We hope that the federal government and Canada Post come to an agreement for the people in Canada but for us, we have our alternate plans in place,” Fedeli said, refusing to elaborate.
As for illegal dispensaries, Fedeli said it is a “very, very critical day” for those businesses.
“The local police force can shut you down immediately and it is now a $250,000 fine. The incentive to the municipalities to do that is they keep the money. So if you are the landlord and you have an illegal facility, you also get $250,000 fine and they could seize your building,” he added.
“The hammer comes down today on these illegal businesses and if they are still open, they can never, ever get a licence in Ontario.”