Regulators in British Columbia announced on Tuesday that private cannabis retailers will now be allowed to conduct sales of recreational marijuana online or over the telephone, although customers will still be required to pick up their purchases at the store.
The regulations are being modified as a way to reduce the chances of transmitting the coronavirus during cannabis transactions, according to British Columbia Attorney General David Eby.
“This change responds to a request from private retailers as they continue to follow the mandates of the provincial health officer,” Eby said in a statement on Tuesday. “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.”
Under the previous provincial regulations, non-medical cannabis retailers are only permitted to take reservations for products online or over the phone. After products have been reserved, customers must come into the retail location to pay for and pick up their orders. Home delivery of recreational cannabis is not allowed in British Columbia, although that could change soon as well. Canada legalized cannabis for use by adults nationwide in 2018.
With the new rules, retailers will be able to take customer and payment information over the phone or through websites and smartphone apps, limiting both the physical contact necessary to conduct transactions and the amount of time customers must spend in line. In order to process transactions online or on the phone, employees of cannabis retailers will still be required to verify the ages of customers when they come to the store. The new regulations also require that online sales include the use of an age verification tool to screen customers at the time the order is placed.
Cannabis Delivery Also Being Mulled
British Columbia officials also announced that the government is considering legislation that would allow cannabis retailers to deliver purchases to customers. In addition to eliminating the need for customers to visit the shop, making it easier for them to abide by social distancing guidelines, the move would allow the regulated cannabis industry to more easily compete with unlicensed dealers.
“We’ve heard from legal cannabis retailers that they want more tools to help increase competitiveness with the illegal market by allowing online sales,” said Mike Farnworth, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General for British Columbia, in a statement Tuesday.
“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,” he added.
Taken together, the new regulations for online sales and potential legislation giving the green light to the home delivery of cannabis products is likely to spur even greater support for regulated cannabis in British Columbia. A recent poll found that over half of the province’s cannabis consumers are obtaining the products they use from retailers licensed by the government. Less than a year ago, in October 2019, the figure was only 31%. The poll also found that 70% of British Columbia residents approve of cannabis legalization in Canada.