Government eases cannabis purchasing rules at private stores

In an effort to ease some of the crowding in private cannabis stores during the pandemic, the province is allowing consumers to reserve and pay for their pot online.

Buyers will still have to pick up the product in person to allow retailers to check identification.

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The province says the amendments allow private cannabis stores to accept payments made on a website, app or by telephone, limiting customer time in stores and permitting physically distanced pickup.

Previous licence conditions allowed customers to reserve cannabis products online, but required them to visit a store to complete the payment and obtain their purchases.

Nicole Neeland, manager of Clarity Cannabis’ Langford location, said having clients order and pay online will ease congestion during busy periods and save time for both staff and customers at retail locations.

Attorney General David Eby said in a statement the change responds to requests from private retailers as they continue to follow the mandates of the provincial health officer. “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 cannabis. It didn’t give any timeline on allowing deliveries, only saying retailers would need to maintain strict standards preventing youth access to cannabis.

Most cannabis retailers contacted Tuesday said deliveries would add to the efficiencies of online cannabis orders and purchases.

The province also amended regulations to permit retailers with multiple stores to accept prepaid purchase or gift cards at any of that licensee’s locations or through its online system.

Previous regulations restricted the use of such cards to the store at which the card was purchased.

“We’ve heard from legal-cannabis retailers that they want more tools to help increase competitiveness with the illegal market by allowing online sales,” Mike Farnworth, minister of public safety and solicitor general, said in a statement. “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.”

dkloster@timescolonist.com

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