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Pot vapes, edibles and drinks scarce in Ontario on Day 1 of legal sales

Chocolate samples from Tweed, Tokyo Smoke, and The Bean and Budd Craft Cannabis Company seen during a tour at a Canopy Growth facility that produces cannabis derivatives in Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada October 29, 2019. REUTERS/Blair Gable

Ontarians hoping to indulge in legal cannabis vapes, edibles, drinks and other so-called 2.0 pot products had few options on the first day of sales. 

The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS), the Crown corporation overseeing legal sales to consumers and wholesale to private shops, authorized physical stores to start selling 59 new products beginning on Monday. The list is dominated by vapes, but also includes edibles and one beverage product. 

OCS warned that supply would be tight at the onset, with some products selling out quickly before being replenished in the coming months. However, a phone survey by Yahoo Finance Canada on Monday revealed the vast majority of stores in the province did not have a single product from the new categories available for sale.

Ontario currently has 24 physical cannabis stores open for business. Of the 19 reached by phone by Yahoo Finance Canada, only two said they had cannabis 2.0 inventory available; Hello Cannabis in Hamilton, Ont. and Choom Cannabis in Niagara Falls, Ont. Most that had not received their order said they expect delivery from the province later in the week. 

OCS communications director Daffyd Roderick told Yahoo Finance Canada deliveries are “on schedule and on time.”

“Due to varying delivery schedules, stores will receive shipments on different dates,” he wrote in an email on Monday. “For example, some stores receive shipments on Mondays, others Wednesdays, etc. This is not due to a delay, but rather the normal delivery schedule, which stores selected.”

Roderick added that there is a limited supply available from licenced producers, and more products will be available in the coming months. 

Ontario has faced harsh criticism from licenced producers, consumers and investors over its handling of legal cannabis since recreational sales were authorized on Oct. 17, 2018. The province initially capped the number of stores in the province at 25 awarded through a lottery amid fears of supply shortages. The much-maligned lottery system and store cap were scrapped last month.

The release of new pricier cannabis products has been hotly anticipated by licenced producers, many of whom have fallen on tough financial times. A study last year by Deloitte estimated the market for edibles and other alternative cannabis products in Canada will be worth $2.7 billion annually and generate higher profits.

Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist.

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