Ontarians can now legally order weed delivery

Published Apr 16, 2020 11:00 a.m. ET
iStock / Ivan-balvan

Mere hours ago, citizens of Ontario were panicking when they watched the provincial press release that revealed which shops made the new reduced list of essential services. Cannabis dispensaries right across the province were ordered to close, with only hours to prepare for the sudden rush of customers. Those with money raced to their closest cannabis dispensary to stock up, while knowing that there could be a real possibility that this trip could be their last for the foreseeable future.

Some people have been calling for the closure of cannabis dispensaries and LCBOs, claiming that no one needs access to booze or weed when lives are at stake, and those who felt that way celebrated but in a pivotal move. The provincial government didn’t take long to pass an emergency order that would change the way that things have worked since the very beginning of legalization.

Ontario has always been a strict region when it comes to rules and loopholes that must be followed to set up shop, and that was made clear when the provincial government announced that the only way that investors could open a licensed cannabis dispensary, was to apply for an exhausting cannabis lottery that required financial backing, a plan, and absolutely no guarantee for the future.

As if that wasn’t enough of a problem, following that decision came a flurry of rules that seemed to hinder consumer access, as options like weed delivery or curbside pickup were forbidden entirely. These rules were fought against to no avail, but now that we are dealing with a fast-spreading epidemic, the provincial government has loosened the rules to allow consumers access to their much-needed medicine, by passing an emergency measure that allows licensed dispensaries to serve consumers curbside, and through marijuana delivery.

The order

According to a Ministry of the Attorney General spokesperson, the emergency order was signed into law on April 8thby Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell after receiving cabinet approval. The order temporarily allows every licensed cannabis dispensary in Ontario to re-open and serve the public, but there are still plenty of rules in place to ensure that safety and quality are maintained as we move forward into these unchartered waters.

Only employees who have passed the AGCO training program, which is currently run by CanSell, can handle cannabis products, and the limit of 30 grams per order is still to be upheld. Since this specific course is designed and required for anyone who works in a cannabis dispensary, these facilities will be able to continue to employ the staff that they have on hand, but they will not be allowed to hire inexperienced or unqualified staff to fill the gaps as they offer this unique service.

Storefronts will not be open for the public, but weed delivery and pick up options will be allowed to run between 9 am and 11 pm, which is longer than most physical storefronts normally stay open, and this should help to keep orders and goods flowing without too much of a backlog. ID checks are still required as they are for online orders that are placed through OCS, but it’s going to be a whole lot easier for customers to safely buy their weed.

Right now, there are a total of 52 licensed cannabis dispensaries across Ontario, and though it is unclear how many will choose to continue to operate, and how they will quickly prepare a telephone or online accessible menu, it is believed that the majority will continue to serve the public throughout this crisis. For the moment, the emergency order was up to April 13th, but that date is expected to be pushed forward for as long as it might be necessary to maintain social distancing guidelines.

Weed delivery might just stick around

A lot of people are wondering what it will take for the provincial government to go back on its initial assessment and make weed delivery a legal and viable option for all dispensaries long after this epidemic has passed. Many are hoping that simply seeing that this system can work just as reliably as a storefront, only model will be enough to change the way we do things in Ontario, but at this point in time, it is impossible to say for sure.

What we do know is that cannabis consumers can now rest easy knowing that their medicine will remain safely accessible for the foreseeable future, which is fantastic news for both medicinal patients and enthusiasts alike.

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