TORONTO, Dec. 12, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- As the Ontario government is looking to review the cannabis file, RCU - Responsible Cannabis Use, who is a member of the Ontario Cannabis Policy Council, conducted a survey with Ontario residents to understand their thoughts and opinions on the legal cannabis market in the province.
The themes were not surprising: access, price, quality and packaging are the items industry and government must tackle together in order to achieve their ultimate goal of eliminating the black market. Ontario residents want more physical stores close to home so they can see, smell and be educated on the product and regional cannabis laws. Some consumers are even willing to pay more just because they feel safer.
“The potential for the recreational cannabis industry is huge. However, with only 24 stores for 14 million Ontarians, there are simply not enough locations to compete with the illicit market. Continuing along the path of reform will open the door for major economic growth, resulting in thousands of jobs and a boost to investor confidence. The Ontario Cannabis Policy Council is urging the government to address any hurdles which remain in implementing a merit-based, open allocation system, as well as allowing licensed producers to directly negotiate with retailers to help establish a fair competitive marketplace.” – Trevor Fencott, Chief Executive Officer of Fire & Flower and Co-Chair of the Ontario Cannabis Policy Council
Here are some key takeaways from the survey.
50% of Ontarians said they want to see more licensed cannabis retailers close to home.
Many of the individuals surveyed expressed their frustration with how inaccessible legal cannabis retailers are. For some, the travel time to the nearest licensed retailer is too great. When asked if they would buy from a licensed retailer if there was one closer to home, - 50% said they can’t wait to see more stores in their area. 33% indicated that they will continue to buy from the illicit market (online or in-person). Only 1% indicated that they will continue to buy online from the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS). There is an obvious demand for more licensed cannabis retailers close to home. In addition, 23% said they do not think the prices are reasonable but are willing to pay more because they want to know what they are buying, which they cannot do in the illegal market.46% of Ontarians believe that consumer demand should dictate the number of stores.
In comparison to the 860 LCBO government stores and partner locations, and over 450 Beer Stores, there are currently only 25 licensed cannabis retailers in Ontario. When asked how many stores Ontario should have - 46% of Ontarians believe that consumer demand should dictate the number of stores. 26% think there should be a minimum of 750 stores in Ontario. Twenty-four is not an adequate amount of stores considering Ontario's population of 14.5 million in comparison to 353 stores in Alberta to serve a population of 4.3 million. Having adequate access is a significant factor in eliminating the illegal market.
64% of Ontarians believe prices from legally licensed retailers are not reasonable and will not buy there.
There was overwhelming feedback in regards to the cost of legal cannabis, the quality of the products available and the waste created from the packaging. Many Ontarians stated that they will continue to purchase illegal cannabis products or grow their own plants at home.
67% of Ontarians believe retailers should educate consumers on the local cannabis laws at the point of sale.
As recreational cannabis was only recently legalized, many residents are still learning the laws and believe that retailers should help educate consumers. All the education efforts currently fall on the budtender, but it is not realistic to expect them to cover product information, pricing and laws in their short interactions. Retailers have an opportunity to leverage this position and use other methods to educate consumers on the information they are looking for. RCU’s CannEd Retail is a turn-key online and in-store educational platform for licensed cannabis retailers that educates consumers on practical topics like smoking laws, possession limits, how to store their cannabis in the car on their way home.
Afshin Mousavian, CEO at RCU explains, "Access to licensed retailers, competitive prices, and education at point of sale are key factors in addressing the illicit market. It's important to note that licensed retailers will have to abide by strict rules and policies which ensure public safety - the illicit market does not have these concerns or overheads."
About RCU - Responsible Cannabis Use
RCU (Responsible Cannabis Use) is a cannabis education company that brings awareness to cannabis facts, laws, regulations, and research. Through its products: Don’t Be Sorry, CannEd Retail, and CannEd, RCU aims to educate all Canadians about responsible cannabis use.
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Afshin Mousavian, RCU