Starbuds in Ontario market
Kirk Penton - Aug 09, 2018 - Biz Releases

Photo: Contributed

A Kelowna-based cannabis company believes it has positioned itself well for cannabis distribution in Ontario.

Starbuds Canada, a joint venture between Compass Cannabis Clinic and Starbuds U.S., has secured multiple real estate locations in Whitby, Ont., and Windsor, Ont., and has entered into multiple operational agreements with stakeholders for additional locations in Canada’s most populated province.

“We’re getting an almost overwhelming amount of calls right now from people wanting to participate, and the word in Ontario continues to be that you’ll see an announcement this week,” Starbuds Canada president Dave Martyn told Okanagan Edge. “Those in the know would tell you that it’ll be like B.C., the hybrid where the government will have some locations and private business will have some locations. So that’s our expectation.

“Buck a beer is done. Private cannabis retail was one of (Ontario premier Doug Ford’s) other platforms. One down, one to go.”

Martyn said the situation is much less clear in B.C., where hardly any processes have been implemented. Martyn’s company has more than a dozen Compass Canada Clinic locations for medical marijuana distribution in Kelowna, the rest of B.C. and Alberta, but where the recreational side of the business is headed is anyone’s guess.

“B.C.’s a huge challenge right now,” Martyn said. “Perceptively and for ourselves, this is the least organized province by a lot. The challenge is provincially the rules have been somewhat laid out, but there’s still no firm application process or dates that are in place.”

Martyn said there’s a disconnect between the province and municipalities, so some cities, like Kelowna, have announced there probably won’t be any cannabis rules and regulations until next year.

“That is simply not happening in other parts of the country,” Martyn said. “We’ve got hammers swinging in Alberta, opening locations. There’s provinces like New Brunswick, for example, that have their locations ready to open that are government run. There’s a dozen of them built out and on display.

“In B.C. there’s no semblance of structure, and it’s made it almost an uninvestable province from the view of both producers as well as retailers. And if Ontario comes on board with private retail, all the investment capital is going to flow east again.

“It’s not bright times in B.C. I’ve been very disappointed in what we’ve seen both provincially and municipally.”

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