Toronto cannabis store owner loses 'thousands of dollars' after OCS cyberattack delays deliveries

Vivianne Wilson is the founder of GreenPort Cannabis on College Street. (Philip Lee-Shanok/CBC - image credit)
Vivianne Wilson is the founder of GreenPort Cannabis on College Street. (Philip Lee-Shanok/CBC - image credit)

A Toronto cannabis store owner felt forced to reduce employees' hours to help mitigate the financial loss of marijuana deliveries delayed for days after a cyber attack on Ontario Cannabis Store's logistic partner.

Even still, Vivianne Wilson, founder of GreenPort, said, "I lost thousands of dollars, that's the reality."

Now, Wilson is hoping the cyber attack can help launch a conversation about how to improve the provincially-run delivery system she says doesn't make financial — or environmental — sense.

"Right now they have a complete monopoly on the industry and they don't work with retailers as partners and that's a huge failing," she said. "I'm hoping that we can go forward, that they can learn from this experience."

CBC Toronto asked the OCS to comment, but has not yet received a reply at the time of publication.

Wilson said she first got wind that her Monday delivery might not arrive on time last weekend, when OCS started sending emails alerting retailers that there was an issue at the distribution plant and shipments might be delayed. By Monday evening, she said OCS finally sent word that the delay would be much longer because of a cyber attack.

At the time, OCS said it was halting deliveries as a precaution after the parent company of its supply chain partner, Domain Logistics, was impacted by an Aug. 5 cyber attack.

The OCS said a forensic investigation by its third-party, cybersecurity experts and Domain Logistics determined no OCS distribution centre systems or customer data was compromised.

Cannabis stores went without deliveries for a week

But many cannabis stores that must order from OCS went without pot deliveries for a week, with several saying supplies were so low they're worried they will lose customers.

Even once Wilson received her shipment on Thursday, she said it didn't include everything she'd ordered. Popular pre-rolls infused with kief — a potent form of cannabis — didn't show up. Her shelves, normally full, remain relatively empty.

"It's going to take a few days, or a few order cycles I should say, to get us back to a normal inventory level," Wilson said.

Wilson received an email from the OCS on Friday that Domain Logistics has "ramped up the fulfillment of retail store orders and deliveries."

She's hoping the delay serves as a wake up call that having one Guelph, Ont.-based distribution centre serving an entire province "is not financially responsible or environmentally responsible."

"Instead of building a system that can support the entire province, they've built a very tiny monopolized process that's clearly inefficient," Wilson said.

OCS and Premier Doug Ford's government need to "really look at the industry… the gaps and the failures and make sure they can make the necessary changes," she said.

Wilson said the OCS's distribution process could stand to be much more transparent — especially after an internal data breach in May that saw her data, along with other retailer's data, shared inappropriately.

"These things impact the trust that we have with their ability to protect us, protect this industry and our information," she said. "OCS needs to rebuild our trust… They've definitely been making decisions in silos."

On Friday, the cannabis wholesaler said hundreds of pot shops are now beginning to receive their deliveries. It also noted that it added extra shifts at its distribution centre to ramp up deliveries.