MONTREAL — Quebec’s provincially-run cannabis retailer is gunning for the province’s black-market cannabis sellers with a new same-day delivery service.
The service will launch as a pilot project on the island of Montreal in July, a spokesperson for the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) told HuffPost Canada.
SQDC already offers delivery by Canada Post, for a $5 fee, with delivery in one to three business days. And due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, it isn’t currently guaranteeing any delivery times at all.
The new delivery service will charge an additional fee “like any other business that offers express delivery,” the spokesperson said.
The retailer ― the only one licensed to sell retail cannabis legally in the province ― has reached an agreement with a delivery company, CEO Jean-François Bergeron told the Montreal Gazette. If the pilot project is successful, the service will be rolled out to the rest of the province over the next six months, Bergeron said.
Montreal has long had unlicensed cannabis delivery services, going back to well before marijuana legalization in 2018, and some have been known to offer delivery in a few hours or less.
It’s that market the SQDC hopes to break into, the Gazette reported. So far, the provincially run retailer estimates it has some 30 per cent of Quebec’s cannabis market, and Bergeron hopes to expand that to 49 per cent by next year.
Watch: Here’s what the legal pot industry wants from the federal government. Story continues below.
The cannabis industry has repeatedly called for Quebec to increase the number of marijuana stores in the province. The SQDC currently has 42 locations, well below the 80 or so open in Ontario, where hundreds of licences for privately owned stores are pending. Alberta now has more than 400 locations.
Some cannabis firms have suggested the relatively slow rollout of legal weed retail in certain provinces has hampered their ability to turn a profit, with much of their expected customer base still buying from the underground black market.
“We need the governments to either continue to build out the retail infrastructure, or allow the private sector to provide the service that consumers demand,” Hexo CEO Sebastien St-Louis told reporters in an earnings call Thursday, as quoted by Bloomberg.
Bergeron told the Gazette the SQDC plans to have 70 stores by next spring.