Consumers in Toronto can order cannabis via the food delivery platform Uber Eats through a partnership with local dispensaries and the online marijuana resource Leafly that launched on Monday.
“We are partnering with industry leaders like Leafly to help retailers offer safe, convenient options for people in Toronto to purchase legal cannabis for delivery to their homes, which will help combat the illegal market and help reduce impaired driving,” Lola Kassim, general manager of Uber Eats Canada, said in a statement from the two companies on Sunday. “Over the last few years, we have invested heavily in our delivery business and selection has expanded tremendously. Uber Eats has grown quickly to become a versatile platform usable by diverse businesses large and small.”
Under the new program, Toronto residents aged 19 and older can use the Uber Eats app to order cannabis from one of three licensed retailers: Hidden Leaf Cannabis, Minerva Cannabis and Shivaa’s Rose. Orders will then be filled by the businesses and delivered by dispensary employees who have been certified by CannSell, a training and certification program required in the province of Ontario.
The partnership between Uber Technologies and Leafly is designed in part to help address competition from Canada’s illicit cannabis market, which persists despite the country’s legalization of cannabis in 2018. The new cannabis home delivery program will also improve access for consumers and patients while keeping the city’s roadways safer.
“First and foremost, we see this as a critical piece to helping discourage impaired driving, and secondly, this is just another initiative that can help combat the illegal cannabis market, which still makes up more than 40% of cannabis sales in Ontario today,” Kassim told CBC Toronto. “So, we’re providing an option that goes beyond in-store, that goes beyond pickup and it’s also an option for consumers on a platform like Uber Eats, which many Torontonians already know and love and also is built on, you know, trust and safety.”
Data from the Ontario Cannabis Store, the province’s only wholesaler of legal recreational marijuana, shows that nearly 57% of the cannabis bought between the beginning of the year and the end of March was purchased through the regulated supply chain. The figure is based on information provided by consumers to Statistics Canada, a fact that may affect the accuracy due to the reluctance of many to admit cannabis use to government agencies.
Home Delivery Launched During Pandemic
Home delivery of cannabis by regulated businesses was launched in Ontario in 2020 when restrictions put in place to address the COVID-19 pandemic were enacted. Under the temporary rules, licensed shops could use couriers to deliver products to customers. The province’s cannabis regulatory agency, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), made the home delivery rules permanent with several new restrictions in March.
Under the regulations, a cannabis delivery service must be part of a licensed brick-and-mortar shop and must not derive its business primarily or exclusively through delivery sales. Orders must be placed with and filled by a specific store rather than a network of shops. Deliveries to third parties are not allowed, and all orders must be delivered while the dispensary filling the order is open for business. Because purchases are delivered by dispensary employees, food orders through Uber Eats must be placed separately from cannabis delivery orders.
To place orders, customers can open the Uber Eats app and select the “cannabis” category or search for one of the three retailers. The customer must be within the shop’s delivery radius to place an order for delivery. Once an order is accepted by the retailer, the customer will receive a notification of the approximate delivery time. When dispensary staff arrives to deliver the order, they are required to check the age and sobriety of the customer in accordance with Ontario regulations and CannSell training.
Marissa Taylor, co-owner of Hidden Leaf, said that she wanted to partner with Uber Eats and Leafly because she believes it will help her expand the customer base at her location in North York, which already has a loyalty program in place.
“We’re a small business and really it was just to help be able to get cannabis to a broader number of people,” she said. “Accessibility is not always easy for everyone… and then to expand our reach, e-commerce is definitely the way to go.”
The Uber Eats partnership with Leafly is the food delivery platform’s first to offer home delivery of cannabis products to customers. In November, Uber Eats launched a program that allows consumers in Ontario to order cannabis through the app from the Tokyo Smoke chain of retail shops. But the platform does not offer delivery, requiring customers to visit a dispensary to pick up orders.
As a medical patient I completely support legalization of cannabis in all its forms for medical and or recreational use. That being said, if I was an enterprising gang banger I’d be hanging out near one of the named dispensaries, with my homies and our illegal guns waiting for the Uber eats car or bicycle to emerge, then rob them. So much for undermining the illicit market. I’m sure some view this as opportunity.