London

London's first medical cannabis producer reacts to Ontario's new retail plans

London’s first medical cannabis producer will now be able to cultivate and sell cannabis once pot is legalized in October but it's not clear yet whether the product will be sold in Ontario.

INDIVA got federal approval to grow and sell dried cannabis the same day the province announced online sales

Pete Young, the master grower and co-founder of London, Ont.-based medical grade marijuana producer INDIVA poses in 'the jungle' a room full of pot plants inside their high security facility in London's south-end. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

London's first medical grade cannabis producer, INDIVA, has received its federal licence to sell cannabis across Canada but the company doesn't know yet whether it will be part of Ontario's new online sales portal. 

Ottawa gave the company the green light Friday, with the provincial government announcing Monday it will start cannabis sales online before opening physical retail stores run privately in April 2019. 

"It's very positive," said Niel Marotta, CEO of INDIVA. "It gives INDIVA an opportunity to extend its brand to the retail experience — beyond the product experience." 

CBC News was the first to tell Marotta that the province had announced its sales policy. 

"For sure in our hometown in London we'd absolutely like to have a retail location," he added. 

The Ontario model 

Ontario's Progressive Conservative government announced it will eventually allow recreational pot to be sold in retail stores starting in the spring.

But when legalization day rolls around on Oct. 17, the government-run Ontario Cannabis Store will sell online only. 

"We want to consult at length with the municipalities, indigenous communities, law enforcement," said Finance Minister Vic Fedeli during a press conference Monday afternoon. 

The OCS will continue to act as the wholesale supplier of cannabis to private retailers. Marotta said there are ways to make this profitable. 

"I suppose there's a quirky anomaly here where we'll sell INDIVA products to the OCS and buy them back to put in our store," said Marotta. "But we think there's room to make incremental profits doing that." 

Meantime, INDIVA's ​Marotta said his company will be happy to work with the government with whatever model they finalize.

Growing in London 

In June, the company announced it was expanding its south London facilities from 30,000 to 40,000 square feet. 

The company expects to be finished construction by the beginning of next year. However, Marotta said consumers can expect to buy products a few weeks earlier. 

When he spoke to CBC News, he was still establishing how sales of his product would work in Ontario. 

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