Medz Cannabis and Thrive Cannabis receive first cannabis “farmgate” licences in Ontario

| David Brown

Both companies, Medz Cannabis and Thrive Cannabis, received their retail store authorization (RSA) from the province on April 20, a representative from the AGCO confirms.

Medz Cannabis Inc, doing business as Royal Cannabis Supply Company, says they hope to be open to customers later this year. The company, located in Etobicoke, near Humber College and the airport, still has several other hoops to jump through before they can open their doors to the public, but are excited to be the first to reach this stage in licensing. They are listed on the AGCO site as “Royal Cannabis Supply Company” at 105 Claireport Crescent in Etobicoke.

“Medz is extremely excited to start stocking our shelves to complete our POI (pre-opening inspection) with AGCO and announce or official public launch date,” says Karly Marsico, Business Manager for Medz Cannabis.

“We look forward to the opportunity of connecting the customers with the ‘farmers’ through this farmgate channel,” she continues. “We are putting together some unique partnerships and alliances to bring top quality, premium, and unique products on our shelves that align with our in-house brands.”

The Ontario producer tells StratCann they have built a house of brands including Medz, Royal Cannabis, Fritz’s Cannabis Company, Hash Co, that they expect to have on shelves soon, along with a selection of “select, high quality” products from other producers available from the Ontario Cannabis Store. 

Marsico says the whole team Medz Cannabis team is looking forward to being able to discuss their own products directly with the consumers.  

“Being on the back end and being able to see all the hard work and the small details that go into every crop it’s very exciting to be able to communicate that directly to the customer instead of relying on the feedback from other retailers and other bud tenders,” she told StratCann last month.

Thrive Cannabis

Thrive Cannabis, a cannabis producer with a large cannabis farm in the Simcoe area, also received their RSA on April 20. They are located at 41 Townline Rd, Simcoe.

“We were incredibly excited to receive our RSA from the AGCO and the fact that it came on 4/20 made it extra special for the team,” says Geoff Hoover, CEO of Thrive Cannabis. “We look forward to opening the store in the next few days! Thank you to all of our partners for making this possible!”

Hoover told StratCann earlier this year that they intend for their planned cannabis farmgate store to operate like any other cannabis retailer in the province, able to carry an array of products from other producers, in addition to products produced on-site at their Simcoe facility. The company also hopes to offer some form of tours of their outdoor facility at the same location, although they are still in the planning stage. 

“We imagine that we can have customers see our incredible outdoor cultivation areas and then be able to buy products produced on the site. We look forward to being able to bridge a connection between the amazing cultivation work happening on-site and the incredible products we are able to produce as a result.”

“Another important thing to note is that there are no cannabis retail locations in Simcoe and Jarvis,” continues Hoover. “With local demand for cannabis, we look forward to being able to provide legal access to cannabis products to our local community.”

How it works

Ontario’s cannabis “farmgate” retail system works similarly to how brewpubs and some vineyards sell their own product. Once a cannabis producer is licensed for a retail store on the same property as their production licence, they still then have to “sell” their product through the Ontario Cannabis Store, although only virtually. Treating the order like any other lot they would be selling through the provincial distributor, then a producer like Medz Cannabis lists it with the OCS but stores it in a specific area on-site in their own production vault. 

The producer then “buys” that product back from the OCS in order to be able to move it from their vault into their retail store to sell to consumers. This is in addition to other products they would sell from other producers across Canada that the farmgate store would still physically order through the OCS. 

In March, a representative for the AGCO confirmed that there are six licensed producers who have been approved for a Retail Operators Licence (ROL) so far, out of the 14 who applied. This is one more approval than when StratCann first reported these numbers in January. The ROL applicant/licensee must also submit an application for a Retail Store Authorization (RSA) for a proposed location. The AGCO also confirmed that they have now received nine RSA applications so far from licensed producers as of January.

While Medz and Thrive are close to opening later this year, several others who started the process for a cannabis retail farmgate licence told StratCann last month that they are holding off on moving forward as they are not sure the model will make sense for them. Ontario is the first province to move forward with such a retail model. In 2020, BC announced its intention to have a similar cannabis farmgate plan in place in 2020. Stakeholder engagement on what that will look like is expected later this year.