Cannabis delivery, curbside pickup return to parts of Ontario — but for how long?
Ontario private cannabis retailers may re-offer home delivery and roadside collection during a month-long pandemic in two densely populated regions. However, it remains unclear how long the government will allow these services.
“There is a high likelihood that this 28-day embargo will be extended. I think we certainly expect the number of (COVID-19) cases to rise after the last hurray this (past) weekend when malls, retail outlets and restaurants and bars were all full, ”said Alanna Sokic, a Toronto-based senior advisor at Global Public affairs.
The new rules only apply to stores in regions that have been blocked, including the Toronto and Peel regions.
The retailers there may not let customers into their stores, but they may offer roadside delivery and collection between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m.
“I most likely think this current determination is only temporary,” said Omar Yar Khan, national cannabis director at Hill + Knowlton Strategies in Toronto.
“I think what this represents is an opportunity for retailers to once again prove to the Ontario government that they can be responsible for receiving this facility, and I think that will be key.”
Khan believes there is a “decent chance” the Ontario government will allow roadside cannabis pickup and delivery on a permanent basis after making further progress in handling a long backlog of business license applications.
The growing number of brick and mortar marijuana stores in Ontario has taken a wild regulatory boom this year.
In early April, in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, private retailers across the province were temporarily given permission to compete for the first time with the Ontario state cannabis store’s delivery monopoly, and were also able to offer roadside pickup outside their walled shops.
The end date for this allowance has been extended several times, but roadside delivery and collection were again banned in late July as the pandemic subsided.
The new roadside pickup and delivery rules put online by the Ontario Alcohol and Gambling Commission on Sunday are largely similar to previous rules.
However, the new rules allow delivery payments to be completed at the time of delivery instead of being completed in advance as required in the previous rules.
On Monday morning, High Tide, a major Alberta-based retailer, stated that the affected Toronto area locations were “fully and immediately responding to the order” and ready to offer roadside pickup and delivery services in a short time.
Solomon Israel can be contacted at [email protected]