Canadian government contracts up for grabs for cannabis businesses

From same-day delivery service in Ontario to paper bags for BC Cannabis Stores, millions of dollars in provincial government contracts are up for grabs for businesses looking to capitalize on legal marijuana.

It’s especially important for Canadian businesses to pay attention to the calls for public tender – the invitation to bid to provide services or goods – because so much of the legal cannabis industry is government controlled, at least compared to the rest of the world.

Provinces in Canada generally maintain monopolies over wholesale and online sales, while the federal government regulates cultivation and testing.

Shannon Kloet, director of training services for Toronto-based consultancy Cannabis Compliance, offered these tips for anyone seeking a government contract:

  • Read the entire tender. Understand what is being asked of you and the restrictions within the agreement.
  • Address every point in the tender. Treat your response like a job interview. Assume they know nothing about you or your company, and provide them with as much detail as possible. If you have experience with any other government contracts you have won and delivered on, be sure to include such information.
  • Make your submission engaging. There undoubtedly will be a lot of applications, so make yours stand out.
  • Cost is key. Know your competition and plan accordingly.
  • If you aren’t sure what something means in the tender, ask. The agency behind the offer generally has a point person listed who can provide clarification.

So, how can businesses tap into government-sponsored opportunities, and where can they be found?

Following is a list of provincial government contract portals, and all current opportunities related to cannabis (as of Feb. 19, 2019).

British Columbia

British Columbia lists a number of cannabis-related business opportunities.

The province’s cannabis wholesaler – the BC Liquor Distribution Branch – is requesting proposals from qualified and experienced companies to supply and deliver paper bags for BC Cannabis Stores.

The deadline to apply is Feb. 28. Details can be found here.

The province is also seeking a learning management system for the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch. The deadline to apply is March 1. Details can be found here.

Alberta

Alberta’s government contracts can be found here.

Currently, the Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis Commission is looking for a multiyear contractor to provide Employee Group Benefit and Insurance Programs.

The deadline is Feb. 20.

Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan’s public tender portal can be found here. No cannabis-related contracts are currently available.

Manitoba

Manitoba uses the MERX portal for its public tenders. Currently, there are no cannabis-related opportunities.

Ontario

Ontario does not list any cannabis-related opportunities on its Tender Portal website.

However, because Ontario is the largest cannabis market in Canada, opportunities open up regularly.

Quebec

Quebec’s Electronic Tendering System (SEAO) does not list any cannabis-related opportunities on its public portal, but keep an eye on it as the province has previously offered a number of opportunities.

New Brunswick

Opportunities to bid on public tenders related to cannabis can be found here.

The New Brunswick Government Purchasing Branch is looking for garbage removal services at various Alcohol NB Liquor stores (41 locations), central warehouse and Cannabis NB stores (20 locations) throughout the province.

The deadline is March 7.

Prince Edward Island

The Prince Edward Island tenders website currently does not list any cannabis-related opportunities.

The province previously sought home delivery applicants, among others opportunities.

Nova Scotia

The Nova Scotia Tender website offers a number of cannabis-related opportunities.

The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC) is accepting proposals from qualified proponents for the provision of legal services.

The contract has an initial five-year term on a nonexclusive basis, with the option to renew for another two-year term.

NSLC’s mandate includes retailing of recreational cannabis.

The bid document says a thorough knowledge of the Nova Scotia Liquor Control Act and Cannabis Control Act, as well as national and international developments in the alcohol and cannabis industry, are essential.

The deadline is Feb. 20.

The province is also looking for companies to provide information on their digital registration software. The NSLC says initial implementation will be a pilot and is restricted to cannabis agents and locations.

According to the tender document, the NSLC may expand the contract to alcohol, pending successful implementation and utilization of data obtained via the solution.

The deadline is Feb. 28.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland currently does not list any cannabis-related opportunities.

Its Public Procurement Agency portal can be found here. 

Matt Lamers can be reached at [email protected]

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