OCS to allow farmgate stores to sell exclusive products

OCS to allow farmgate stores to sell exclusive products

The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) has plans to soon allow cannabis farmgate stores to sell cannabis products that are exclusive to their location.

In an announcement posted on Thursday, May 9, the OCS says the rule change will occur in late spring, creating new opportunities for cannabis farmgate locations.

Ontario’s cannabis farmgate program issued its first licenses in April 2021, and since then has issued nine such licences across the province, with five in operation.

These new changes, says the OCS, will add value to its farmgate framework and “will help to create engaging destinations for consumers that elevate legal products above illegal alternatives.”

The OCS also plans to engage cannabis producers and retailers about the opportunities presented by this operating model and assess its impact.

One company that helped consult with the OCS on this new program, Sensi Brands, is excited by the opportunity to expand its unique offerings. Station House Cannabis is the retail location attached to Sensi Brands, a licensed cultivator and processor in St. Thomas, Ontario, who received their farmgate licence from the province in 2021.

Sensi Brands’ Founder & CEO Tony Giorgi says the new change will allow them to test out new cultivars and products through their farmgate store before launching them to a wider market, as well as providing a unique opportunity for their farmgate customers.

“For us, we think it’s a huge win and another key step forward in favour of Ontario producers for those who have the ability to offer farmgate. This is a win for Ontario LPs.

“It’s great to have this process to be able to innovate new products and introduce them into the marketplace very quickly before going through national commercialization.”

Giorgi says Sensi Brands now employs around 120 people, and the farmgate location has helped build their brand within the local community of St. Thomas.

“There’s a lot of value to the farmgate store as we’ve learned after running it now for three years. The ability to continue to educate and work within the community is really important.”

Ontario’s farmgate rules allow licensed cannabis producers to apply to operate an Authorized Retail Store at their production facility. These Farmgate Stores are licensed and regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (“AGCO”) like any other retail cannabis store.

One key difference, however, is that these producers can sell products directly from their farms rather than first sending them through the OCS distribution centre.

There are five cannabis farmgate stores open in Ontario: Thrive Cannabis, Kingston Cannabis, Level Up, Royal Cannabis Supply Company, and Station House Cannabis Co. There are four other locations that have received a Retail Store Authorization (RSA), but have not opened.

British Columbia and New Brunswick have also implemented their own farmgate programs. New Brunswick now has six such stores, while BC has only one currently.

| David Brown | stratcann.com

Featured image of Station House Cannabis’ farmgate store in St. Thomas, ON.