The Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) says a breach has stolen cannabis sales data. The Crown monopoly handles the distribution of cannabis in Ontario. It is illegal for licensed producers to send their products straight to retailers. First, they must go through the Ontario Cannabis Store.
A spokesperson for the government monopoly said, “There was no failure of IT security or systems.” But later confirmed there had been a “misappropriation of data.”
Stolen Cannabis Sales Data: What Happened?
The Canadian Press obtained a letter from the Ontario Cannabis Store. The letter, sent to retailers, confirmed that “confidential store sales data” was being “circulated in the industry.”
“This data was not disclosed by the OCS, nor have we provided any permission or consent to distribute or use this data outside of our organization,” reads the letter. “The data misappropriated, disclosed, and distributed unlawfully. As a result, we trust you will refrain from sharing or using this stolen data in any way.”
Undermining consumer confidence is par course for the provincial regulator.
Last December, Ontario‘s auditor general’s annual report severely criticized the Ontario Cannabis Store. The Crown monopoly often misreports its inventory levels. They fail to forecast supply and demand, thus creating consistent product shortages. Inaccurate forecasts leave customers and licensed producers frustrated, the report said.
In response, the OCS said it’s updating its point-of-sale technology. They aim to improve sales reporting and inventory management.
Stolen Cannabis Sales Data Deux
Finding out about stolen cannabis sales data from the OCS is becoming routine. On November 1st, 2018, a breach saw over 4,000 customers’ private information stolen. The breach included postal codes and product reference numbers. It also had the names of people who signed for cannabis deliveries.
At the time, the Ontario Cannabis Store assured customers that everything was fine. They said the affected breach only made up two percent of customer orders.
Perils of Bureaucracy
Having cannabis sales data stolen is another reason to scrap the OCS altogether. Many provinces are implementing “farmgate” models. This is where producers can sell their products on site.
Others question the need for a central distributor at all. Especially one financed by taxpayers and immune from the competition of the marketplace. This separation from ordinary business calculations may be why the OCS keeps failing. Without profit and loss, the bureaucracy cannot accurately allocate resources.