Shopify is getting into the legal weed biz. It was announced last week that the e-commerce giant will handle online cannabis sales for the province of Ontario, Canada
The deal is part of a partnership with the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation (OCRC), a subsidiary of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, and it will use the Ottawa-based company’s online store software for its online and mobile sales portal.
Shopify will also be used inside OCRC outlets to handle transactions, display product information on iPads, and manage human resources and inventory, the Canadian Press reports.
Ontario province is a huge market, with over 13.6 million people, including Canada’s largest city and financial center, Toronto. Legal cannabis is big in Canada: Deloitte reports that Canada could hit $8.7 billion annually, with Ontario consumers representing more than one-third of Canada’s total population.
The OCRC plans on opening 80 cannabis stores by the summer of 2019, with another 150 coming by 2020. Online sales will help fill gaps in smaller and more remote towns where the OCRC does not plan to open outlets.
Sales of the drug in Ontario will only be available through government-run online or in standalone stores, while some other provinces such as Alberta and British Columbia are allowing for some private sales of cannabis.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada would federally legalize cannabis after July 1, with recreational sales to begin shortly thereafter.