Weed delivery and curbside pickup may be sticking around in Ontario for good, if a provincial proposal goes through.
Over the course of the pandemic, the province has flip-flopped on how cannabis stores can get their products to customers under changing restrictions. Temporary lockdown measures granted curbside pick-up and delivery, only to be taken away then given back again as viral waves surged.
But on Thursday, Ontario brought forward legislation to support businesses, which includes the suggestion to permanently give licensed retailers the option to provide delivery and curbside pickup.
“This would also enable retailers to continue supporting physical distancing and general public health directives,” reads the provincial outline.
While curbside is a perfect solution for people in a rush, for example, delivery is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing,” says Jennawae McLean, co-owner of Calyx + Trichomes in Kingston.
“It is a public service during lockdown, but is a problem for permanent protocol from a few angles,” she continues in an email to Mugglehead.
The software is pricey, as is hiring drivers, which can also be difficult to find for small independent retailers during a labour shortage, McLean explains.
“While some believe this will allow smaller players to compete, it actually chokes them out,” she says.
She emphasized it’s a liability for retailers and drivers, and the latter carry the burden of safety.
“We have to work out a lot of these concerns before we would consider bringing any delivery back.”
High Tide Inc. (TSXV: HITI) (Nasdaq: HITI) (FSE: 2LYA) CEO Raj Grover, however, applauded the move and support for the regulated market.
I applaud Ontario for listening to the cannabis industry and tabling legislation today that would permanently allow legal cannabis retailers to offer home delivery/ curbside services. This will be an important tool towards fighting the illicit market. 1/3 https://t.co/B6SfBUmubn
— Raj Grover (@RajGrover_HITI) October 7, 2021
“Like other sectors, cannabis retail was hit hard by pandemic-related shutdowns in Ontario. The temporary allowance of home delivery helped many cannabis retailers sustain their business and limit layoffs in the face of illicit market competition,” he continues in a tweet.
“Making this allowance permanent will help support a regulated and legal industry that employs thousands in Ontario and that unlike its illicit market competition, takes great steps to restrict access to minors.”
The suggestion for delivery and curbside services is part of Ontario’s Fall Red Tape Reduction Package, intended to “modernize regulations and ease unnecessary burdens,” and features the proposed Supporting People and Businesses Act 2021.
The package builds on three years of work to “lighten the load for people and businesses weighed down by the pandemic’s demands,” said Nina Tangri, associate minister of small business and red tape reduction, in a statement.
“Cutting red tape and modernizing our regulatory system will help people and businesses meet the demands of today, while positioning them for a brighter tomorrow.”
In July, British Columbia gave cannabis retailers the greenlight for delivery.