British Columbians can now pay for their weed online, finally allowing for socially distanced pickup.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of the Attorney General said it had amended regulations to allow private cannabis retailers to sell recreational cannabis products online for pickup in store.
The regulatory change follows a request from retailers related to customers’ concerns about Covid-19, the ministry said in a statement. It also comes amid increasing fears of a second wave of infections as the economy and public services re-open.
In March, the province allowed for customers to reserve product orders online, but still required them to go in-store to make the necessary monetary transaction. Mugglehead published an opinion piece at the time questioning how such a move would actually support physical distancing measures mandated by B.C.’s health officials.
The article called on the province to permit sales in order to better protect staff and consumers. It also noted how online sales are permitted in other provinces, and have been cited as a way to combat illicit sales. On July 23, Ontario terminated an emergency order that allowed curbside pickup and delivery for private cannabis stores, much to the dismay of those businesses.
Under B.C.’s new rules, payments can be made on a website, app or by telephone, limiting customer time in stores and permitting physically distanced pickup.
In-store pickup is still required for employees to check customer ID, and retailers must also include an age-verification tool in their online sales systems.
The province is considering proposals from private retailers for delivery of online weed sales, but says any potential relaxation of the existing prohibition would need to maintain strict standards preventing youth access.
B.C. Attorney General David Eby acknowledged the change responds to a request from private stores as they continue to follow guidance from the provincial health officer.
“It supports public health and safety by reducing the amount of time customers need to spend in stores and allows them to remain physically distanced from employees and each other,” he said in the statement.
An additional change will permit cannabis retail licensees with multiple stores to accept gift cards at any of that company’s locations or through its online system. Previous regulations restricted use to the store where the card was purchased.
The province noted the changes will improve competitiveness of legal operators by drawing business away from illegal online weed stores and offering increased convenience for consumers.
“We’ve heard from legal cannabis retailers that they want more tools to help increase competitiveness with the illegal market by allowing online sales,” Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said. “By offering online sales for cannabis products, we can support the growth of a vibrant, legal cannabis industry, while also keeping public safety as our top priority.”
Top image via Kiaro