U.S.-based company wins contract to develop and manage Alberta site for online weed sales

U.S.-based company OnX Enterprise Solutions has won a three-year $4.59-million contract to develop and manage an online site for Alberta cannabis sales.

Alberta government awards 3-year contract to Ohio-based company OnX Enterprise Solutions.

A $4.59-million contract to sell weed online has been awarded by the Alberta government to Ohio-based OnX Enterprise Solutions. (Kim Brunhuber/CBC)

A U.S.-based company has won a $4.59-million contract to develop and manage the Alberta online site for cannabis sales.

The Alberta government awarded the 3-year contract to Ohio-based company OnX Enterprise Solutions, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) announced Tuesday.

AGLC spokesperson Michelle Hynes-Dawson said six candidates bid on the contract in an "open process" after requests for proposals were posted on a government website for 12 days in February.

She said OnX, which has worked with a wide range of corporations such as Rogers, Canadian Tire and American Express, stood out for their expertise in e-commerce online sales. 

The AGLC will oversee the distribution of cannabis, which includes sales both in retail stores and online. 

According to the province's recent budget, the government expects a $90-million net loss of marijuana revenue in the first two years while set-up and acquisition costs are expected to exceed revenue, before making $37 million in 2020-21.

Hynes-Dawson said privacy, security, ease of payment and selection and age verification are important features of the future online site. Cannabis can't be consumed by anyone under the age of 18. 

"We've heard very clearly from the government of Alberta that's one of their key priorities," said Hynes-Dawson. "So we'll make sure we have a strong system in place."

She said consumers can also expect to find product information to educate consumers as they buy because "responsible use will be a big part of this."

CBC placed a call to OnX's Edmonton office just after 3 p.m. local time and a recording stated: "You have reached us after our regular business hours."

Hynes-Dawson said it's not yet known which specific type of pot products will be sold online. The government has put out an expression of interest but hasn't awarded contracts to producers yet. But she said online sales will be up and running as soon as weed is legal. 

"We will be ready for Day 1 when cannabis is legalized," she said.

The federal Liberal government has said pot legalization should go into effect this summer, but a specific date remains uncertain.