As Ontario prepares for the launch of Ontario Cannabis Stores across the province, we have been vocal about protecting the interests of convenience stores that sell cannabis-related products.
The OCSA is of the belief that allowing exclusively licensed Ontario Cannabis Stores to also sell these secondary products would be unfair to small businesses who already rely on their sale.
Below is a letter issued to the president of the Ontario Cannabis Store expressing our concerns.
Dear Ms. Kennedy,
I am writing to you on behalf of the Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA) to express concerns regarding the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) potentially selling cannabis-associated products and paraphernalia that are already legally available through private retailers in Ontario.
The OCSA believes that the Ontario Cannabis Store should refrain from competing with the private sector with product sales that would economically harm thousands of small businesses across the province – as well as the people they employ and the millions of customers they serve. Such a move would be particularly harmful in light of the increased financial burden many small businesses are facing due to rising costs related to government initiatives, including high energy prices and recent increases of nearly 21% to Ontario’s minimum wage. Specifically, the OCSA is referring to products such as:
• Rolling papers
• Lighters and matches
• Cannabis delivery mechanisms
While convenience stores must compete in an open market for customers, the monopoly on recreational cannabis gives the OCS a constant flow of customers, which could be exploited if the OCS were to sell associated products that are the same items often sold by convenience stores.
There is a precedent for this. In the 1990s the province prohibited the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) from selling gift items such as wine glasses and crystal ice buckets due to the unfair advantage it would have given them over existing gift shops. Likewise, the Beer Store has always been barred from selling any products that would compete with the convenience sector. The OCSA believes the same restrictions and regulations should be applied to the OCS on similarly competing products and cannabis paraphernalia.
Retail small business in Ontario, including convenience stores, are disproportionately owned and staffed by new Canadians. They are responsible for helping thousands of people who have come to Canada build better futures for their families. Ontario’s small businesses are deeply tied to the neighbourhoods and communities they serve. It is in our shared interest to help these businesses thrive.
The OCSA welcomes a dialogue on this topic and would be happy to meet with your officials to discuss our concerns further.
Dave Bryans Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ontario Convenience Stores Association (OCSA)
Photo courtesy of Chuck Grimmett // Flickr Creative Commons