Cannabis delivery is now a permanent option in Ontario

Starting today, cannabis consumers in Ontario will no longer have to wonder if delivery of their favourite plant is just a temporary pandemic service. As of March 15, cannabis retailers in the province can offer delivery and curbside pickup services permanently.

The announcement by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario outlined that delivery orders have to be placed with a specific store location, and orders have to originate and be completed by that same store, with products that are on-premises (aka no fulfillment centres).

Also, the AGCO will only allow deliveries to be made by those with a retail store authorization or their staff. And forget about the possibility of delivery companies (sorry Uber Eats); as of March 15, third-party services will no longer be allowed to deliver cannabis to Ontario consumers. 

And Ontario isn’t the only province updating its delivery policies. British Columbia and Alberta have also made updates to online orders and delivery.

Weed delivery became a pandemic staple for consumers

Cannabis delivery drove cannabis sales in Ontario in 2020 when the lockdown measures encouraged the Ontario government to categorize cannabis as an essential item.

The province temporarily allowed delivery and curb-side pickup of cannabis products during lockdowns, measures that some cannabis producers viewed as vital to remain competitive. 

“As lockdowns were put in place, the government of Ontario listened to legal cannabis businesses and allowed us to offer curbside pickup and delivery services to our customers on a temporary basis,” said Raj Grover, president and CEO of High Tide in October 2021.

“This decision helped many smaller cannabis retailers stay afloat and limit layoffs while providing the sector with an important tool to combat illicit market operators, many of whom began ramping up their unregulated delivery services as the pandemic hit.”

Delivery options are changing throughout Canada

British Columbia has also made weed delivery permanent

Ontario isn’t the only province to make cannabis delivery a permanent feature of retail sales. As of July 2021, licensed retailers in B.C. were able to deliver cannabis between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. but they had to ensure the product is stored securely during delivery. (As to what defines “stored securely,” last year’s announcement didn’t offer any more details.)

The province further outlined that only adults could receive delivery orders, and those who appear to be under 19 will have to show the courier two pieces of identification.

The recipient doesn’t have to be a resident at the address, or the person who placed the order, but they will have to provide their name and signature to accept the delivery. In addition, third-party delivery services are not allowed.

Alberta requires a “hard age gate” as cannabis delivery options expand

As of this month in Alberta, businesses can offer cannabis delivery via their own staff, Canada Post, or a courier service. These new regulations are a result of Alberta closing its government site and allowing private retailers to take over online cannabis sales in the province. 

Alberta’s shift comes with some criticism, though, as age verification requirements became more stringent.

While some provinces only need a basic “soft age gate” where a consumer can self-verify that they are of legal age of access, Alberta requires any retailer selling or even advertising cannabis and listing prices to truly verify the consumers’ age and identity (aka no more fake birthdays).

Some retailers may opt to use a third-party app like Equifax for this process. Customers may also need to have their ID checked again at the point of delivery, by the store employee or courier.

While the process to order weed and get it delivered online may be convoluted depending on where you live, it’s safe to say many provinces have listened to their constituents who require a streamlined process to get their cannabis delivered to them. 

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David Silverberg

David Silverberg is a freelance journalist who writes for The Toronto Star, BBC News, The Washington Post, Business Insider, Cannabis Health, Merry Jane, High Times and many other outlets. He is also a writing coach helping freelance journalists and creatives level up their careers.

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