Ontario reverses decision on cannabis stores and will now allow pick-up and delivery
The people of Ontario can once again purchase weed from their retailers of choice after a brief period of relative prohibition due to COVID-19.
Just days after taking recreational cannabis stores off its list of essential services, Ontario's provincial government passed an emergency order late Tuesday afternoon allowing legal brick-and-mortar retailers to operate once again — albeit under strict conditions.
The order, signed into law by Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell last night, permits all 52 of the province's licensed cannabis stores to offer delivery and curbside pickup services to their customers effective immediately.
Previous to this, cannabis stores across the province were ordered to shut down completely for at least two weeks after being cut on Friday from Ford's list of business types allowed to operate during the coronavirus pandemic.
The only remaining legal option for cannabis consumers in Ontario, prior to today, was the province's own online store, the OCS — which, coincidentally, has seen its order volumes double since the amendments to Ford's "closure of places of non-essential business" order came into effect on April 4.
I wrote this FAQ post about cannabis retail stores in Ontario now being allowed to deliver cannabis and facilitate curb-side pickup. I answer some questions you are probably asking.https://t.co/3ipilW50eL— Harrison Jordan (@harjord) April 8, 2020
"Authorized cannabis stores will be permitted to sell, deliver, and offer curbside pick-up of cannabis and other items from Monday to Sunday, between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m.," reads a release announcing the news from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).
"The maximum purchase amount of 30 grams of dried cannabis (or equivalent) per transaction remains in place. All involved in the sale and delivery of cannabis must hold certification from CannSell to ensure products are sold responsibly."
Retailers must, of course, continue to comply with all laws and regulations under the Ontario Cannabis Act, and cannot complete any transactions in person — payment must be completed when an order is placed by phone or online, not during pickup.
They must also abide by strict procedures laid out by the order, which includes capturing all transactions on their store's security cameras.
"When the customer arrives at the store for pick up, store staff will bring out the order, which must be in its original packaging, to the customer waiting in an area," reads the AGCO's release.
Great move by @Ont_AGCO to facilitate continued operations for #cannabis retailers during these challenging times. They even loosened a few regulatory burdens in support of operational continuity for licence holders... https://t.co/bYaKLyRDEm— David Hyde (@davidhyde2) April 8, 2020
In terms of delivery, only the licensed retailer or one of their trained employees may deliver cannabis on a store's behalf.
The government is also "placing a temporary pause on the issuing of retail store authorizations" while Ontario remains in a state of emergency amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
This particular emergency order allowing for curbside delivery and pickup will last for 14 days, and can be extended from there in two week increments, just like Ford's state of emergency declaration itself.
Marijuana consumers and industry professionals, many of whom were disappointed on Friday to learn that cannabis stores had to close while liquor and beer stores could remain open, are thrilled with the move.
"We applaud the Ontario government for openly listening to stakeholders, swiftly amending its position and reasonably allowing retail stores to re-open and provide customers with access to legal recreational cannabis products and accessories," said High Tide Inc. president Raj Grover (who owns three Canna Cabana locations in Ontario) on Wednesday morning.
"We applaud Ontario for its quick and decisive leadership in allowing the safe resumption of #cannabis retail sales via click-and-collect," wrote licensed retailer WeedMD on Twitter similarly. "Thank you Premier Ford. Our sales team is on it."
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