Leafythings, a cannabis directory platform and mobile application, has proposed a supplementary independent cannabis supply chain in Ontario.
The Leafythings platform is a digital aggregation of independent and regulated brands and retailers across the cannabis retail market. Leafythings uses Google and open-source solutions to compile all of its retailers and brands. Independent cannabis supply chains represent roughly a CAD$3 billion marketplace in Canada, equal to the size of the regulated supply chain.
"It is disastrous," said Nima Derak of Leafythings. "Local Canadian cannabis growers and farmers have made up the independent supply chain for 40+ years. They have worked to prove the medical and recreational benefits of cannabis through evidence-based research and development methods. These individuals have worked tirelessly with legislators to advocate for cannabis businesses and consumers, and to facilitate the legalization of consumption and possession of marijuana. They are members of the public, they are Canadians, and they have been neglected and removed from the current process. Canada is to marijuana cultivation as Belgium is to chocolate. Over-regulation and financial barriers coupled with monopolization of the cannabis supply chain in Ontario is causing major distress to independent Canadian growers and retailers and is locking them out from operating successfully.
Last week, The Ontario Cannabis Store has had to halt all deliveries to its retail partners due to an alleged hacking incident that crippled its third party logistics handlers.
"The role of Government should be held to regulating cannabis, not creating an unnecessary role as the distribution middle man. Delivery is a basic function of today's society. Could you imagine if the liquor store stopped delivering to its retail partners? This doesn't happen. It never happens within the logistics of our independent distributed food supply chain. It doesn't happen to tobacco products at the thousands of convenience stores and it doesn't happen in any other industry in Canada.."
Leafythings wishes to work together with our partners in cannabis at the OCS, to create a better and improved model now that Cannabis has been legalized for over three years. The independent supply chain has expressed substantial interest in working with regulators and contributing to the Canadian economy.
"It is not in the benefit of the Canadian tax payer to take an industry that already existed, ignore it, and put a new system in place that ignores the other 50% of consumers. Let's call it as it is: the OCS as the sole monopoly distributor and online store has acted only as another broken and redundant arm of the government," Derak said.
"The $3 billion independent cannabis industry and the $3 billion regulated industry have to reconcile. It is absolutely insane to continue on the path we are on. We are making a clear and logical proposal to the Ontario Cannabis Store. The regulation and cannabis supply chains within Ontario can be managed exactly like food is. There are no mandated organic food certification companies within the food supply chain, but there are third parties who follow the principals of the Canadian Organic Standards, to certify organic food. We can create transparent Independent Cannabis Standards that support Health Canada's objectives. Government can take on a more regulatory role. We propose the creation of an agency similar to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. This agency's role would be to maintain samples and certificates of analysis from anyone who selling into the independent supply chain for the purposes of product recalls. There are hundreds of laboratories within the cannabis space, and these independent facilities can be leveraged for this capacity by independent producers. Due to the proven safe nature of cannabis, we propose no THC limits on independently produced cannabis goods. Independent producers must comply with the Federal Cannabis Act's guidelines on packaging," said Derak, "There is no way to put this in a politically correct fashion - cannabis is proven to be safer than many non-regulated household goods and medications, and it is time we start acknowledging this."
What would this proposal mean for cannabis retailers? These companies would be able to order directly from independent manufacturers as well as the regulated supply chain, much like a grocer carrying traditional and organic foods. Some goods come directly from the manufacturer while others come from various food terminals. This would allow retailers the ability to differentiate themselves and cater to their local consumers more appropriately - and ultimately - it is the consumer that dictates the success of the retailer.
"Access to cannabis is very important to millions of people across Canada. With the recent service disruption experienced by the OCS here in Ontario, so many will have that access interrupted," said local cannabis consumer Kunal Vora.
Allowing retailers diversity in their product sourcing would help ease the mind of the consumer, while managing to retain their trust in the event of another widespread industry issue.
Leafythings proposes a sensible, solutions-based approach for an economic engine like Ontario to help alleviate the burdens of supply chain management and to support the objectives of legalization.