TORONTO - Ontario cannabis shoppers scooped up thousands of edibles and vape products within an hour of them going on sale for the first time on the Ontario Cannabis Store's website.
The online retailer experienced 2,000 transactions on Thursday in the hour after 70 products — cannabis-infused chocolates, cookies, soft chews, mints, tea and vapes — were made available at 9 a.m. local time.
Some products sold out within a half-hour, said the cannabis distributor's spokesperson Daffyd Roderick.
"At 8:59 a.m., we had 3,000 people in the lobby hitting refresh, waiting to get online, so there was obviously some excitement in the marketplace," he said.
"We were sold out of soft chew products within 25 minutes."
The rollout is part of Cannabis 2.0, where the country is allowing a second wave of products like edibles, extracts and topicals to hit the market following the October 2018 legalization of cannabis in Canada. The frenzied pace of sales online Thursday comes after the products first appeared on store shelves last week. Such items were approved for sale in Canada in mid-December, but several provinces, including Ontario, delayed their rollout.
When the OCS website was first launched and the first round of cannabis products went on sale in 2018, Roderick said the site experienced "high demand," causing online deliveries to take as long as five days to arrive. Ontario Premier Doug Ford said in the first 24 hours the OCS processed 38,000 orders.
Roderick said the online debut of the edible and vape products went well, but acknowledged that there were "a few bumps."
"Because there were so many people simultaneously refreshing, their page would drop and then they would hit refresh a couple times and they would get back," he said.
"It's similar when you're buying concert tickets or anything else where everyone is online trying to do the same thing at the exact same moment, so we did face some challenges but that's completely sorted itself out now."
When shoppers Thursday did make it through to the site, which was down between 12:01 a.m. and 9 a.m. to prepare for the launch, Roderick said they were most interested in soft chews.
Several packs were priced for between $6.65 and $12.35 and came in flavours like raspberry vanilla, peach mango, pineapple orange, apple green tea and grapefruit hibiscus.
Roderick figured there popularity stemmed from soft chews having a "convenience factor" and because "not everybody loves chocolate."
There were only three kinds of chocolate left for shoppers by noon, when The Canadian Press reviewed the website.
Roderick would not share when more stock will arrive or how much of each product was available for sale, but said its allotment is equal to physical stores and the distributor has a limited supply it has been provided with by licensed producers.
"We know that they're doing their best to ramp up their production capacity and like everyone else, we're waiting and watching for when those products are going to come," he said. "The producers are very interested in getting these products to market, so they're working as quickly as they can."
The OCS expects cannabis topicals, concentrates and beverages to be sold in the coming months.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2020.