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What's next for Ontario cannabis retailers? A Q&A with Adam Vassos of RCCO

By
Jay Rosenthal
June 14, 2022

With a population of over 14 million, Ontario is integral to the overall success of Canada's cannabis industry. 

Despite a slow start to retail licensure, Canada's largest province has witnessed astronomical growth, with nearly 1,500 stores in operation today. Most of these cannabis retailers have had their doors open since March 2020, when COVID ushered in retailers’ ability to offer ecommerce, delivery, and click-and-collect options for cannabis consumers.

Given the substantial uptick in stores, along with the easing of all COVID restrictions in the province, the Retail Cannabis Council of Ontario (RCCO) met last week to discuss the future of cannabis retail in Ontario at their Annual General Meeting. Tom Mungham, CEO of the AGCO (Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario) was also in attendance as the keynote speaker for the evening.

The RCCO is a nonprofit advocacy group that provides a unified voice for private cannabis retailers across Ontario. Their mandate is to promote and advocate for independent cannabis retailers at all levels of government, and to drive positive change in order to help the industry reach new heights in a fair, safe, and sustainable way. Learn more about the RCCO and how you can support their mission.

As the presenting partner for the event, Dutchie had the chance to sit down with Adam Vassos, the RCCO’s Executive Director, to talk about the future of cannabis retail in Ontario. Vassos shared three key insights on the current state of the market.

1. The cannabis industry has ramped up to support retailers.

According to Vassos, cannabis producers and brands—as well as regulators and the provincial wholesaler—have all stepped up to help serve the RCCO community, which is largely comprised of small, independent cannabis retailers. Vassos also noted the key role that Dutchie has played in helping retailers:

“You have companies such as Dutchie that continuously innovate and create fantastic ways for us to sell our products.” — Adam Vassos, Executive Director, RCCO

2. There's a need for a national voice for independent retailers.

Alongside retailers in British Columbia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan, Vassos shared that the RCCO has created a newly-launched organization: the Retail Cannabis Council of Canada. This new organization will help independent retailers have a larger voice; at both the local and federal levels.

3. Significant work remains in order to catch up with alcohol.

In terms of industry advocacy, as well as relative market share, cannabis still has a long way to go to catch up to alcohol—a $4 billion industry in Ontario. The cannabis market comes in at roughly half that, at $2 billion. According to Vassos, this highlights the need for the RCCO to work through advocacy, lobbying, and education to achieve market growth.

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If you're a cannabis retailer in Ontario interested in staying up-to-speed on the latest market updates, contact our Canadian-based Dutchie team. Or, if you're looking for integrated Ecommerce, POS, and Payments solutions for your retail store, request a demo today!

About the author
Jay Rosenthal
Lead Content Producer @ Dutchie