COVID-19The weed wireOntario to scrap delivery and curbside pickup amidst ongoing pandemic

Temporary measure will end alongside province's declaration of emergency
Michelle Gamage Michelle GamageJuly 8, 20206 min

Private cannabis retail stores in Ontario are about to lose their ability to offer customers curbside pickup and delivery options.

The temporary measure was made possible by a provincial emergency order to support retailers and ensure customers could safely access legal weed during the pandemic, an Ontario Ministry of Finance spokesperson told Mugglehead in an email. But the measure will end when the province’s declaration of emergency expires, she said.

The declaration is set to expire July 15, but that could be extended until July 24, CTV reported.

The Ontario Cannabis Policy Council issued a statement Tuesday, saying it was “disappointed” the temporary measure hadn’t been made permanent to help the regulated market compete with the illicit one. The OCPC is a collection of industry leaders and experts whose goal is to further industry growth in the province.

“At a time where the illegal sector accounts for over 80 per cent of cannabis sales in the province, today’s decision will further reduce consumer access to legal cannabis by making the government-run Ontario Cannabis Store the only legal online retailer of recreational cannabis in Ontario,” read the statement.

“Successfully displacing the illicit market will require a fair and competitive legal market whereby recreational cannabis stores are granted the same privileges any other retailer is entitled to, including e-commerce.”

But not all retailers in to province agree delivery’s days are done.

Calyx + Trichomes Cannabis, a retailer in Kingston, ON, said on Twitter they won’t lay off their delivery drivers for now.

“I’m hearing rumblings from credible places that while it’s being discontinued from the emergency order it may get written into law,” reads the tweet.

When asked about this possibility, Ontario government spokesperson Emily Hogeveen said she was unable to comment at this time.

Curbside pickup and delivery options were introduced in early April when retail cannabis stores lost their ‘essential service’ status and were ordered to close. The goal, the AGCO said, was to help retailers combat the illicit cannabis market while keeping a safe distance between retail staff and customers.

Read more: Ontario allows weed delivery and pickup to combat illicit market

And while the daily rate of new Covid-19 cases has decreased since early May, when a record 2,760 new cases were reported in a single day, the province is still grappling with hundreds of new cases every day.

That signaled an opportunity for Oregon-based cannabis delivery service Dutchie, which launched its service in Ontario June 11.

“As businesses begin to reopen, customers still want safer alternatives to how they buy and collect products, and Dutchie’s solutions are catered to meet these critical needs,” Dutchie CEO Ross Lipson said in a June statement.

Read more: Ontario keeps weed delivery and pickup as Covid-19 closures ease

However, the AGCO’s rules on who can and can’t handle cannabis during a delivery meant Dutchie drivers acted more like taxis for cannabis retail employees than a typical Doordash delivery driver.

The OCS offers home delivery through Canada Post or though a courier, but delivery can take three to 10 days. In Quebec, the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) currently offers home delivery within three days and is launching a system of same-day delivery this month in Montreal.

Top image via Deposit Photos

 

michelle@mugglehead.com

@missmishelle

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