There is only one place to buy legal cannabis in Ontario and many people aren't very impressed with it.
Just a few days after recreational marijuana was legalized across Canada, Ottawa residents are already returning to the black market because they're frustrated with the Ontario Cannabis Store's online sales system, which is currently the only legal channel for purchasing legal weed in the province.
Unhappy customers say problems with processing orders and long wait times are the main reasons why they're returning to their street dealers.
Adam Brett says that his roommate had placed an order with the Ontario Cannabis Store in the wee hours of the morning last Wednesday, but as of Saturday, the shipment still hasn't arrived. So Brett has decided to continue getting his stuff though illicit dispensaries until the provincial system gets the kinks worked out.
"Overall, I think [legalization] is a good idea, but maybe they didn't think the whole thing through," Brett told the Ottawa Citizen.
Another man, who asked to stay anonymous, called the province's online store a "disaster." He tried to make a purchase on the Ontario Cannabis Store website on Wednesday, but the site crashed before he could complete his order. Now, he's turning back to the black market. And while he admits his local dispensary is more expensive than the government store, he said he's ok with paying the little bit extra.
"They are going rogue and staying open, so they'll need the money for legal fees if they get busted."
Still, he says the whole situation is a little disappointing.
"It's all a little bit odd. It's harder now to get cannabis than before, and it’s more expensive."
Beyond the disappointment of shipping delays and website troubles, there are many other people in Ontario who can't buy from the government website at all because they don't own computers or credit cards, or because they're simply not comfortable with online shopping.
The manager of Capital Buds, one of the dispensaries that chose to stay open after October 17 despite the potential fines they could receive, said he hopes the province realizes stores like his are trying to fill the service gap left by the government regime.
"We are doing a public service," said the manager, who also asked not to be named.
With Canada Post representatives saying the corporation could start rotating strikes soon, the issues with shipping delays for the online store may not be resolved anytime soon. The Ontario government also doesn't plan to have any legal cannabis dispensaries operating before April 2019, meaning illegal stores that do plan to keep their doors open over the next few months will continue to have a clientele.