Ontario will allow cannabis delivery and curbside pickup permanently

TORONTO — The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario says cannabis retailers in the province can offer curbside delivery and pickup services on a permanent basis.

The move aims to make permanent, starting March 15, the two avenues of sales that jar shops were first allowed to explore temporarily during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It will also provide buyers with more choice, convenience and access to the legal cannabis market.

Bubba Nicholson, vice president of business development and philosophy at Thrive Cannabis in Simcoe, Ont., applauded the move because permanent and curbside delivery could help pot shops, which saw traffic drop during the COVID-19 pandemic and have had a harder time drawing new customers, rebound.

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“We need to empower retailers to try to bring customers to their doorstep, whether virtual or physical, as best they can,” he said.

However, this decision has some limitations, including regulations preventing cannabis retailers from operating entirely or primarily as delivery businesses.

This means that cannabis retailers will not be able to adopt the same model used by some quick-service restaurants and other retailers, which have set up numerous “shadow kitchens” or fulfillment facilities that do not serve walk-in customers but act as pick-up places for couriers.

However, preventing delivery-only companies will mean that big companies won’t eclipse others, pointed out Omar Khan, senior vice president of public and corporate affairs at High Tide Inc., which has about 113 pot shops. in Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

“We…support Ontario’s regulations as they limit an operator’s ability to dominate the cannabis e-commerce market,” he wrote in an email.

“This will stimulate competition and help provide more choice for consumers.”

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The commission also said delivery orders must be placed with a specific store location, and orders must come from and be fulfilled by that same store with products that are on-site.

The commission will only authorize deliveries by persons with retail store authorization or their staff and will not authorize third party deliveries.

Robyn Rabinovitch, Thrive’s vice president of sales and marketing, said setting up your own delivery service isn’t a fast or cheap endeavor, especially for family-run cannabis stores.

Some downtown Toronto cannabis stores she ordered from during the pandemic were able to drop off products in 20 minutes or less.

“It will be interesting to see how viable these business flows are going forward with everyone operating so tightly from month to month and the higher cost imposed on those trying to differentiate themselves through services. delivery,” she said.

While most Ontario pot retailers use their own staff to facilitate deliveries and pick-up, some like Canopy Growth Corp. turned to Uber during the pandemic.

In November, Canopy’s Tokyo Smoke brand began allowing users of the Uber Eats app to order cannabis products for pickup within the hour.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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