Canopy Growth to launch online marijuana store in April
Online sales could be one way recreational marijuana is sold after legalization
Canada's biggest publicly traded marijuana company is readying a new online store to hawk its wares, in a move that hints at how legal marijuana sales might soon look.
Canopy Growth Corp., which owns the Tweed, Mettrum, and Bedrocan brands of medical marijuana, will launch the Tweed Main Street store in the first half of April.
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Between them, the three brands have more than 50,000 registered clients, according to Canopy. Right now, those customers have to shop for their products separately, on each brand's individual website.
Tweed Main Street will allow customers to buy marijuana bud, oils and seeds and from all three companies in one place — a first for the Canadian marijuana industry, according to Canopy Growth president Mark Zekulin.
"Up until this, you're forced to go to the Nike store, the Reebok store, the Adidas store," said Zekulin, by way of analogy. "But nobody's been carrying all three."
"You just have to look at the regular world to see that people do want variety, they do want multiple different choices, and this is the first real opportunity in the legal market where you see that available for patients," he said.
Clients who are registered with any of the three companies will have their registrations transferred to the new online store, said Zekulin. He confirmed that the existing, separate stores for Tweed, Mettrum, and Bedrocan will be phased out.
The new store will give customers a variety of ways to filter and sort products, he said, and will be supported by more than 100 customer service workers.
Canopy Growth isn't the only marijuana company experimenting with different ways to sell its product. Alberta-based Aurora Cannabis offers a smartphone app for online shopping. In time, Zekulin said, Canopy could launch an app to accompany its store.
Getting ready for legalization
Buying legal medical marijuana online is far from new in Canada. Patients with a doctor's prescription for marijuana must register with a Health Canada-licensed producer, order online or by phone, and then receive the order by mail.
"We are eliminating the need to choose a producer," said Zekulin. "You can now choose a store."
Canopy's online marijuana emporium could be the shape of things to come. With full legalization of marijuana expected in July 2018, a large online store could put Canopy in a good position to sell to non-medical consumers — assuming provincial governments give online sales the green light.
Zekulin predicts the mail-order model will remain in place once full legalization kicks off, and acknowledged that Canopy is preparing to sell beyond medical customers in the future legal market.
"At the end of the day, yes, this store is a step towards what we see as the future," said Zekulin. "Which is, whether it's medical or whether it's recreational, people want to walk into a store and know that there's a breadth of variety, there's a breadth of production platforms and brands, and that they're choosing from those."
"And that store might be the LCBO, it might be Shoppers Drug Mart, or it might be Tweed Main Street," he said. "Or it might be all three."