Looking to buy some cannabis? One of Ottawa’s retail shops is charging a little more than the others.
There are three licensed retailers in Ottawa: Superette on Wellington Street West, the Hobo Recreational Cannabis Store on Bank Street, and Fire & Flower on York Street.
Superette and Hobo both include HST in their listed prices for customers, but Fire & Flower adds the 13 per cent tax onto its listed prices.
This means the price of a two-pack of pre-rolled joints — which lists on the provincially run online Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) for $16.85 plus $5 for shipping — costs $16.95 at Hobo but $19.04 at Fire & Flower. It’s a difference of $2.09.
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While the government does set a price floor for cannabis products, it does not set a price ceiling or dictate whether retailers should include HST in the list price or add it at the register.
Rob Cherry, vice-president of merchandise for Fire & Flower, said most retailers don’t include taxes in their list price.
“Our strategy and pricing in general was to take OCS’s pricing and add the tax,” Cherry said. On top of that we’re adding the experience of the store, we’re adding curation, we’re adding customer experience, we’ve got a great assortment of accessories. It’s a fantastic store experience, beautiful store, so we’re essentially throwing that in.”
The Hobo cannabis shop has taken a different approach.
Harrison Stoker, vice-president of brand for Donnely Group, which operates the Hobo chain of cannabis stores in Canada, said the company decided to mirror the prices on the OCS website.
The Hobo Recreational Cannabis Store on opening day, April 1, 2019. (Laurie Fagan/CBC)
“We decided we wanted that element of familiarity in pricing. Although we do technically have a premium retail experience, we didn’t want to raise our prices to reflect any premium nature because it’s the same produce that everyone else is selling,” Stoker said.
Hobo has been forced to close some days due to supply issues as each store is only allocated 25 kilograms a week of product from the provincial regulator.
Superette, the other licensed retailer in Ottawa, also mirrors OCS pricing on its products.