The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has urged the province to allow licensed cannabis producers to sell directly to consumers via their own ecommerce sites.

The trade body said it is imperative that the province capitalizes on Canada’s first-mover status in the rapidly developing global cannabis industry. It has produced a report making a series of recommendations on how best to exploit the competitive advantage currently held by Ontario, which houses more than half of the licensed recreational cannabis producers in Canada.

“Ensuring the private retail market is successful is critical to the long-term viability of the sector,” said Michelle Eaton, vice president of communications and government relations at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

It wants to see lawmakers proceed with the merit-based licensing lottery system that sees retailers open stores across the province. It said the next phase would be to allow consumers to purchase directly from producers.

It also wants to see the Government of Ontario follow Alberta’s lead by allowing partnerships between retailers and producers, and allowing producers to open up retail chains.

The OCC warned leaders that countries around the world will be scrutinizing developments in Ontario before developing their own regulations, and it needs to show that it can promote a competitive legal market in order to retain an industry-leading status.

The report advocates the development of a common excise stamp to allow producers to ship products more efficiently. It said it is also important to beef up the team at Health Canada so that the regulatory body can green-light facilities quicker, without compromising the rigour of the licensing process.

Additionally, it wants to see solid legislation surrounding concentrates in order to seize market share from the black market. It recommends permitting individual servings of edibles containing up to 10mg of THC, and it wants to see the Government of Ontario running public education campaigns around concentrates.

It called for the authorities to work with the industry and co-fund public education and awareness campaigns that provide consumers with cannabis literacy, explaining the difference between CBD and THC, the health risks and how to use it safely.

The Chamber of Commerce also called upon the Government of Ontario to develop a funding pool that dishes out cash to universities that will research cannabis issues, supporting the growth of the province’s cannabis talent pool in the process.