Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, customers of Clarity Cannabis in Valleyview have increasingly requested delivery of cannabis products to their homes.
Provincial rules, however, don’t allow it.
Meanwhile, the government’s cannabis retailer — B.C. Cannabis Stores — delivers, raising questions about whether a provincial monopoly on online cannabis sales is fair to private retailers.
“We need to have fair competition with them,” Clarity Cannabis manager Giulio Moroni said.
BC Cannabis Stores is the sole online cannabis retailer in the province, harkening back to non-medical cannabis legalization in 2018. Amid the pandemic, the province loosened rules to allow cannabis stores the ability to take online reservations. However, according to industry, the rule changes have not gone far enough.
The Association of Canadian Cannabis Retailers has penned a letter to the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, which will go before the board on Thursday afternoon, requesting support in pushing the province to further modify cannabis retail regulations to allow private retailers to accept online payments and make door-to-door delivery of cannabis.
The association argues allowing online payment would allow customers to avoid contamination points, such as point-of-sale terminals, and reduce in-store contact. In addition, the association notes direct delivery would accommodate people who are unable to leave their homes due to self-isolation or being immunocompromised.
“Both Saskatchewan and now Ontario have allowed online payment and direct delivery with no significant complications or negative consequences and we believe these regulatory changes are appropriate for B.C, as well,” the letter states.
“We believe that many municipal governments in B.C. could stand to benefit from these changes, as they will hopefully reduce in-store traffic and lineups caused by physical distancing requirements for essential retailers, like cannabis stores.”
For Moroni, it all comes down to what is fair. If the province can sell product online at a time when people are largely stuck at home, why can’t his store? It’s not the first time private cannabis retailers have criticized the province’s involvement in the business of cannabis.
Moroni also pointed to three government stores in Kamloops with which he competes, offering lower prices than he can provide due to provincial markups on product. He said government should regulate the safety of products for customers, but stay out of the business of cannabis.
“I understand that it’s a young industry, but when the government goes in business, it’s a disaster,” Moroni said.
KTW has reached out to the province for comment.