The province of British Columbia is allowing privately owned adult-use cannabis stores to accept payments online, by phone or through an app for in-store pickup, in an effort to promote social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The amended regulations still don’t allow curbside pickup or full, door-to-door e-commerce for the province’s 200 private sector cannabis stores.
Under the previous rules, customers were able to “reserve” products online, but payment and an identification check had to be conducted inside the store.
The new rules allow customers to complete payment online, via app or by phone, but still requires them to enter the store to show their identification and pick up their purchase.
At the very least, the move could reduce the amount of time consumers spend inside stores.
“This change responds to a request from private retailers as they continue to follow the mandates of the provincial health officer,” B.C. attorney general David Eby said in a press release.
The government claims the change “will improve the competitiveness of legal operators in drawing business from illegal online cannabis stores by offering increased convenience for consumers.”
In reality, winning consumers over from the illicit market is more a matter of “offering the best quality and the best product we can, and the best service we can,” said Mike Babins, co-owner of the Evergreen Cannabis store in Vancouver.
“That being said, I think it’s a great thing and it will save time, especially during the pandemic,” Babins said.
“Especially if the second wave (of COVID-19) hits, and we have to close our doors again, it would be great if everything could be prepaid, in a bag waiting for you, just show up and pick it up.”
The provincial government also said delivery was under consideration for private B.C. cannabis retailers.
“Any potential relaxation of the existing delivery prohibition for private retailers would need to maintain strict standards preventing youth access to cannabis,” said the press release.
Solomon Israel can be reached at [email protected]