Sarah Climaco

Ontario Delays Launch of Private Cannabis Stores Until 2019

On Monday, Ontario’s government announced that it would start legal cannabis sales as online-only when it becomes legal on Oct. 17 and would delay brick and mortar sales until April of 2019, Bloomberg reports.

In the meantime, Ontario has partnered with Shopify to provide a government-run, online-only platform for the sale of legal cannabis. Once private brick and mortar cannabis shops open in April, that same platform will handle wholesale distribution as well.

This change is an official rolling back of the previous Liberal government’s plan, which would have seen cannabis distributed via 40 government-run shops by the end of 2018.

“Implementing this new approach will take time. We have to get this right and we will not be rushed.” — Vic Fedeli, Finance Minister for Ontario, via Bloomberg

Canaccord Genuity analyst Matt Bottomley said the move may cause a drag in sales growth if cannabis is only available online. He said there likely remain some unknown bumps in the road ahead and that a delay of just six months is optimistic.

“I’m a little suspect on these stores being open April, but maybe the first batch will be open then.” — Matt Bottomley, analyst for Canaccord Genuity, via Bloomberg

Following the announcement, all publicly-traded cannabis stocks took a hit, some nearly 10 percent.

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