Recreational cannabis legalization is now less than a month away, but most Canadians still don't know how to get weed come Oct. 17.
The weed store rollout will look different in every province, which Lift & Co. CEO Matei Olaru thinks may account for why there are knowledge gaps across the country.
In an interview with HuffPost Canada, Olaru pointed to Ontario as an example, where 60 per cent of survey respondents said they didn't know where they'd be buying legal weed.
"Up to a few months ago, Ontario was going to be a public system with the (Ontario Cannabis Store), essentially running their stores. But recently there was a change and they went private," Olaru said.
"And now there's a bit of time gap where we won't know what those private retailers will look like, where they'll be, how you could even be one."
Manitobans the most confused
The survey found Atlantic Canadians are the most knowledgeable about where to get weed, with only 44 per cent saying they don't know. Most provinces in the region will only have government-run stores, except for Newfoundland and Labrador, where private licenses will be granted. All have promised to have their brick-and-mortar stores running and ready to go by the legalization date.
"So one thought process is Ontario's had a recent change, and perhaps that has led to a larger knowledge gap versus (Atlantic Canada) that has been stable for some time, and has been better communicated," Olaru said.
On the opposite coast, 59 per cent of British Columbians don't know how they'll get legal weed. On Monday, the province's public safety minister announced only one brick-and-mortar BC Cannabis Store will be open in time for legalization in Kamloops, though some private stores may also be up and running.
Manitobans appear to be the most confused about how to get legal weed on Oct. 17, with nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) saying they don't know how. The province will allow private retailers to operate, with no government-owned stores. Licenses have been granted to four private consortiums who are expected to open 30 stores around the province.
Millennials and Gen X-ers are more aware of where and how to get legal weed— 53 per cent don't know, compared to 67 per cent of boomers.
Brick-and-mortar will hit at black market: Olaru
A separate survey also done by Lift & Co. found just over half (52 per cent) of Canadian cannabis consumers are more likely to buy weed legally in October, and 32 per cent expect to do so in brick-and-mortar stores.
Olaru said that according to the company's research from earlier this year, just half of current cannabis consumers know what they're actually using.
"And those purchasing for the first time will have a very hard time learning about the product or the category if you have to rely on a website or licensed producer marketing, where they're prohibited from saying things about their product— you really need that touch point to educate."
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He said a "robust brick-and-mortar presence" will help educate consumers and "really hit at the black market."
The survey was conducted online by Maru/Blue from Sept. 5-6, 2018 among a random sample of 1,510 Canadian adults who are Maru Voice Canada panelists. A probability sample of this size has an estimated margin of error of +/- 2.5 per cent, 19 times out of 20. The results have been weighted by education, age, gender and region (and in Quebec, language) to match the population, according to census data. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.
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