Waterloo region's pot business wants Ontario to allow private retailers to sell

Marijuana producers say Ontario allowing private retailers to sell pot will be beneficial for customers.

Marijuana producers say Ontario allowing private retailers to sell pot will be beneficial for customers

Green Relief Inc. is a licensed producer of medical marijuana based in Flamborough. The business uses aquaponics to supply (Chris Seto/CBC)

According to reports, Ontario will allow private retailers to sell marijuana once it becomes legal on Oct. 17 — and pot producers in the region are thrilled at this prospect. 

"Overall it's a really positive development that allows us to connect with our customer on a much better basis,"  said Nathan Woodworth, the CEO of James E. Wagner Cultivation.

Woodworth said although the regulatory regime set up by the government is "very useful and serves an important service," it is still "very controlled."  

"When provinces step in and add in layers of control, it can almost become prohibitive for end users and that's exactly what we want to avoid," he said. 

Buck Young, the co-founder and manager of CannTx, a marijuana producer based in Kitchener said this possibility will "translate into better products, services and prices for consumers." 

"We welcome the changes because we believe they'll welcome producers by levelling the playing field... and by creating a more responsive and competitive retail space," said Young.  

Young said this allows individual retailers to decide which products to carry and respond to local trends and demands that a province-wide distributor might otherwise not be interested. 

"Certainly this is good for producers like CannTx," he said, adding it will benefit his business. 

Ryan Clark, the manager of the Cannabis Supply Company, which has five marijuana clinic locations in southern Ontario said he is also happy to hear news of this possibility. 

"The majority of Canadians prefer the private dispensary model so we're very excited that our new premier is going to be more realistic with the distribution of cannabis in the near future," Clark said. 

All three companies said they will consider expanding their businesses to sell if Ontario follows through with this plan.

A source in the provincial government told the Globe and Mail that Finance Minister Vic Fedeli and Attorney General Caroline Mulroney are expected to make an announcement as early as next week to outline a plan to let the private sector own and operate cannabis shops.

The provincial government wouldn't comment on the details, but a spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of Finance said the province will be ready by the time marijuana is legal in October.