Ontario sows confusion over deadline ending cannabis delivery, curbside pickup

(The latest development in this situation can be found here.)

Private cannabis retailers in Ontario, Canada are preparing to end their temporary roadside pickup and delivery services Thursday.

The action is taking place despite a possible government misinterpretation by the provincial cannabis regulator, the Ontario Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO), according to a leading industry attorney.

In an information bulletin published on July 22, the agency notified retail licensees that the current emergency order “expires with the Ontario Emergency Declaration ending on July 24”.

“Authorized cannabis stores will no longer be allowed to offer roadside delivery or pick-up from Thursday, July 23rd, 11:59 pm,” the bulletin said.

However, the AGCO bulletin was linked to an outdated version of the contingency order in question.

In the original version, the cannabis collection and delivery order should be valid “for the duration of the emergency”.

The Cannabis Ordinance was amended on July 15th to remove the language “for the duration of the emergency” and replace it with “for the duration of this order”.

In other words, while Ontario’s declaration of emergency actually expires on July 24th, the cannabis pickup and delivery order no longer automatically expires with it.

The current version of the Cannabis Regulation specifically states that it will be revoked on July 29th, not July 24th.

As reported by the Marijuana Business Daily last week, an Ontario government press release also extended the order to July 29th.

In an email to MJBizDaily, AGCO officials refused to answer questions about the decision and instead referred inquiries to the Ontario Attorney General’s Office.

The Department of the Attorney General (MAG) did not immediately respond to requests from MJBizDaily for clarification.

Trina Fraser, a partner at Brazeau Seller Law in Ottawa, Ontario who runs the firm’s cannabis practice, said she was waiting for AGCO to sort out what appears to be a mistake.

“Unless there is information that we all don’t have – I can read the regulatory text – it clearly states that they will expire immediately on July 29, unless they are expanded further,” she said.

“I don’t know how to explain your position other than that you made a mistake.”

Fraser pointed out that the Ontario government made no promises to make roadside pickup and delivery for cannabis stores permanent.

“The hope was certainly that it would be permanent, she said,” but (it is) fair to say that both the regulator and the government were pretty clear that this was a temporary measure …

“And even if it’s temporary, there’s obviously this lack of clarity about how long it’s going to be (last).”

Jennawae McLean, founder and CEO of cannabis retailer Calyx + Trichomes in Kingston, Ont., Said her store “flew past the seat of our pants and ready to change in the blink of an eye”.

McLean said her business had put a lot of money and effort into setting up a delivery service but “felt comfortable, uncomfortable with uncertainty” during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I really wouldn’t be surprised if I bothered to update my website and take people off the schedule and all of this (and) they change it – because they do,” she said.

Solomon Israel can be contacted at [email protected]

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