Prince Rupert City Council on May 11, held off endorsing direct-to-door delivery of marijuana and online payments by local cannabis retailers.
In a letter to the mayor and city council, the Association of Canadian Cannabis Retailers (ACCRES) requested the endorsement of the two new measures, which they said would be effective in supporting the social and physical distancing recommended by public health authorities during coronavirus.
ACCRES is calling on the British Columbia Government to further modify the cannabis retail regulations, due to COVID-19 requirements, by permitting online payments and direct delivery. ACCRES said this has already been successfully implemented in Saskatchewan and Ontario.
“We believe that many municipal governments in BC should stand to benefit from these changes as they will hopefully reduce in-store traffic and lineups caused by physical distancing requirement for essential retailers like cannabis stores,” Jaclynn Pehota, special advisor to ACCRES, said.
The measures are important, Pehota said because it will allow licensed, regulated, and tax-compliant retailers a means of competing with unregulated retailers, who are currently quite openly selling cannabis online or offering in-person delivery options.
City Councillor, Nick Adey said of the request that he had mixed feelings, as he knows people already purchase online and product comes in the mail.
“It is something that is happening through other sources. I get that. It levels the playing field,” he said, “But careful controls were placed on the original parameters. I need to know more about what the reasoning is.”
The COVID-19 crisis is very common in ACCRES written reasoning, however Adey said he didn’t know enough about it to support it, as well as whether these proposed measures would be temporary or permanent.
“With municipal resources currently very constrained and bylaw officers unable to enforce against these proliferating operators, we believe offering these options to regulated retailers could help compliant businesses to compete them out of the market instead,” Pehota said.
In a letter to the Solicitor General, Mike Farnworth, that City Council also received, ACCRES said the best way to ensure service and minimize exposure is to use already trained and security-screened staff of licensed retailers, to deliver orders direct to customers. Purchasers would upload photo identification at the time of online purchase, which would then be matched and confirmed at the door at the time of delivery, while maintaining a distance of two metres.
“Originally, the rules were set up for not having delivery, I wouldn’t have a problem supporting for the short term, until they come up with some rules … as far as permanently doing it, I think it needs some thought before we accept it,” Coun. Wade Neish said.
In the end, the council discussions resulted in a resolution being passed to request more information from ACCRES about time frame and intent, before the City of Prince Rupert would provide endorsement or support.
“I tend to agree with the other councillors. We put some controls in when this first started for reason, and online ordering in town — I just don’t know. It’s not like it’s a big city. Someone can run down and get it,” Coun. Barry Cunningham, said.