Laws loosen slightly for BC retailers

Published on August 4, 2020 by David Wylie

Laws are loosening around the sale of cannabis at private retailers.

B.C. cannabis retailers are now able to make sales online and over the phone, but customers will still have to come to the store to show ID.

Meanwhile, provincially operated BC Cannabis Stores still have an edge, as they can make sales online as well as ship to customers through Canada Post.

The province made the announcement Tuesday that it had amended legislation to allow the policy change, which comes amidst strict health regulations for social distancing during COVID-19. Previously, private stores could only reserve products online, but not take payment.

“This change responds to a request from private retailers as they continue to follow the mandates of the provincial health officer,” said B.C. Attorney General David Eby.

“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.”

The province said it is considering proposals from private retailers for delivery of online cannabis.

“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, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “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.”

Sarah Ballantyne, owner of Spiritleaf Vernon, said she is pleased the BC government is making steps to make legal cannabis more accessible, especially during this global pandemic.

“One of the goals of legalization is to eliminate the unregulated market and were making progress but there is still work to be done,” she said.

“We strongly urge the BC government to allow private retailers to offer delivery service. This service will also allow for the vulnerable population to access cannabis during the current pandemic.”

Ballantyne wrote to the LCRB in March requesting online payment and delivery. Her request was promptly denied. She reached out to her MLA, the Association of Canadian Cannabis Retailers group and various other government officials.

“Online payment is just one piece of the resources we need to operate effectively during this pandemic in order to keep our staff and our customers safe,” she said.