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With just over a week until physical cannabis shops can open their doors in Ontario, the head of the world’s biggest cannabis company said the first day will “be like Oct. 17 all over again.”

Bruce Linton, co-CEO and chairman of Canopy Growth Corp., said he expects long lineups, parties and strong sales on April 1- more than six months after Canada legalized recreational use of the drug.

Amid the pent-up demand, the rollout of legal cannabis has suffered growing pains in Canada since legalization. The nascent industry has faced inventory shortages, quality issues and prices that are still above what the illicit market offers. Those hurdles may be most prevalent in Ontario, where the only place to buy legal cannabis has been online through the provincially-owned and operated Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS). In addition, the province is only allowing 25 stores to open next month, following a hotly-contested lottery for retail licenses.

While the rest of the country has access to physical cannabis store locations, Ontario residents have needed to wait about two days for their legal cannabis to be delivered by mail. As a result, sales in the province have been essentially flat, with Statistics Canada reporting only $8.95 million in Ontario cannabis sales in January, a figure that’s little changed over the prior two months. Meanwhile, sales in Alberta have nearly doubled to $14 million in January since cannabis legalization in October.

Canopy aims to open two cannabis stores in Ontario on April 1 after reaching agreements with two license lottery winners, although the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has yet to issue a retail operator licence to the planned locations. In fact, it’s becoming clear that not all of the 25 planned stores will open on day one, as more than half have yet to receive their licence from the AGCO.

Of Canopy’s two stores, one location, a Tweed-branded outlet, will be in London, Ont., while the other - a Tokyo Smoke shop, will be housed in the former HMV superstore building in downtown Toronto.

“Having those stores start in April, and more to follow, is going to be a key indicator of what our summer sell season is going to be like,” Linton said. “People like going into stores. They can ask people questions. If you go onto [the OCS] website, good luck figuring it out.”

Source: https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/canopy-s-linton-says-ontario-s-pot-shop-launch-will-be-like-oct-17-1.1233313

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