With Canada on the cusp of legalizing recreational marijuana, the country’s already-legal medical pot producers are positioning themselves to take advantage of what could prove to be a major new retail market.
The latest move comes from Ontario-based Canopy Growth, which is listed as “WEED” on the Toronto Stock Exchange and bills itself as the world’s largest legal marijuana grower.
The company announced Wednesday it is launching an online store where its 50,000 licensed marijuana customers can browse and compare strains from all three marijuana brands owned by Canopy — Bedrocan, Mettrum Health and Tweed.
An employee checks nearly matured medical marijuana plants in a climate controlled growing room at the Tweed Inc. facility in Smith Falls, Ont. in 2015. (Photo: James MacDonald/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
"We look at this as a transformative shift in the market," Canopy Growth president Mark Zekulin said in a statement.
“Bringing the sector's three leading producers into a single online marketplace is the most important thing we can do to serve our clients."
The new online store will be dubbed Tweed Main Street and will launch in early April, the company said.
Canopy Growth became Canada’s first “marijuana unicorn” last fall — a term that refers to startup companies that reach US$1 billion in value.
That happened in November, after voters in four U.S. states legalized marijuana for recreational purposes.
Canopy Growth's stock price soared in November, following the U.S. election in which four states legalized recreational marijuana. (Chart: Bloomberg)
Canadian marijuana stocks saw another spike earlier this week, after news reports that marijuana legalization legislation will be in force by Canada Day 2018.
That led to renewed speculation that marijuana stocks in Canada and the U.S. may be in a speculative bubble.
Despite the strides made by the legalization movement and the medical marijuana industry, a recent poll from Environics found Canadians see the marijuana industry as being the least trustworthy of any sector.
Only 13 per cent of respondents in the poll said they trusted the marijuana industry. That fell below other less-trusted sectors like social media (20 per cent trust), real estate (21 per cent) and pharmaceuticals (22 per cent).
"While legalization overall enjoys popular support, the devil will be in the details and there is abundant room for missteps as the marketplace is created and governed," Environics CEO Bruce MacLellan said. "It will not be an easy win for anyone."