On Nov. 6th, the Ontario government said they would amend provincialregulations to allow private online recreational cannabis sales, paving the way for Waterloo’s Verda.
Verda Innovations is the first legal cannabis delivery app in Canada. Verda claims to calculate the cheapest delivery route to customers and uses face recognition technology to ensure users are of age.
As of now, Verda cannot operate in provinces such as British Columbia and Ontario because of the monopolization of the industry by the government.
Prior to the provincial government’s decision to change regulations, the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) ran all cannabis deliveries online in Ontario.
“We began thinking of our business after Justin Trudeau announced that he was going to legalize weed,” Evan Adcock, co-founder and CEO, said. “Our mission is to make legal cannabis more convenient and more accessible than the illicit market.”
“The illicit cannabis industry is worth billions of dollars, mainly because customers value how much they save by purchasing illegal weed. We want to shrink the size of the criminal market by offering convenience to our customers, making them willing to spend a little more,” Adcock said.
According to Statistics Canada, 29 per cent of cannabis users say they get their cannabis products from a legal source. Since its legalization, the average price of legal weed fell in the second quarter of 2019 from $10.65 to $10.23 per gram and black market weed went from $5.94 to $5.59 per gram. According to Ontario’s provincial public accounts released on Friday Oct. 13, the government lost $42 million selling cannabis in its last fiscal year.
Verda anticipates that partnering with the government could help convert the 71 per cent of illicit cannabis users to switch to legal purchasing methods.
Adcock claimed that the Ontario government has yet to give Verda a timeline for when this change in regulations will be put into effect.
“Because of certain regulations that are still in place, we won’t be able to show users in Ontario the full range of our business model,” he said. “They will be able to purchase their weed online but will have to pick up orders in store rather than have the weed delivered straight to their homes. This takes away from an important part of our app.”
Adcock started the company with Mackenzie Ferguson and Stephen Masseur. The company gained 2,500 users within the first month since launching in Saskatoon.
He stated that although he was young, he did not encounter ageism in the profession.
Since the legal cannabis industry is young itself, the usual notion that a younger professional
may not be fit for the business was not present. “That being said, we have been declined meetings and opportunities because investors do not agree with the work we do,” Adcock said. “We believe that with the exponential rate of change in today’s day and age, we will soon be able to execute our full model across all provinces, territories, and even states,” Adcock said. “When alcohol was decriminalized, it took several years for it to be as accessible as it is today. We are hoping for the same outcome with weed. It just sucks because even after all the work and dedication this entailed, I can’t even use my own app.”