The government isn’t off to a good start with its new industry. The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) has already run into several issues, just weeks after launching. Many customers are complaining that delivery is taking a very long time, and some are even claiming that they have not received a tracking number weeks after placing an order.
It may be early on in the process, but if the OCS is having this many problems right off the bat, then it’s not going to inspire much confidence in the system, and it could encourage users to go back to the black market. In addition, a Canada Post strike has only complicated matters further, reminding customers why buying pot online is not optimal.
With no pot shops expected in Ontario until April of next year, however, consumers will have to either deal with the OCS and its long wait times and inefficiencies or opt for an illegal dealer in the black market. In an era where groceries can be delivered to your door and where same-day delivery exists, it’s hard to imagine many young buyers having the patience to deal with these issues.
Now, if it were just shipping delays and Canada Post issues, many users may just be able to turn a blind eye and hang on while things get better, in the hopes that in April things will be better.
However, there’s already a much bigger issue that’s come to the forefront: privacy.
There has already been a privacy breach just weeks into the OCS launching, with as many as 4,500 people having their personal information accessed through Canada Post’s delivery tracking tool. The information included postal codes and as well as information on the person that accepted the delivery, names or initials.
The sensitivity of this breach is not lost on many cannabis consumers, as there have been many news stories relating to people having trouble crossing into the U.S. after disclosing previous marijuana use. There were even suggestions that border guards could obtain information on credit card purchases, since such information – if held on U.S. servers – would be fair game under the Patriot Act.
And so the idea that someone’s name and postal code could be linked to a marijuana delivery and purchase is likely not sitting well with many consumers, regardless of how contained the breach may have been.
It’s just another black mark so far on a very sloppy rollout for the new industry. If consumers don’t have confidence in purchasing cannabis online in a safe and secure manner, it’s going to push people to go through other avenues to get pot, which will completely undermine the government’s agenda.
Why We’ll Likely See Privately-Run Cannabis Stores in Every Province
The one positive is from all of this is that issues like these help to bring to light just how important it is for private retailers to be able to sell cannabis, and these problems could help drive more demand for a non-government option (which does exist in some provinces).
Unfortunately, the OCS has already lost a lot of trust with customers, and that could prove to be a big obstacle in growing the industry, at least in Ontario. But the silver lining is that over the long term, it could help pave the way for a better, stronger retail model.