On April 7, 2020, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) announced it is now authorizing cannabis retail stores in Ontario to offer delivery and curbside pick-up services due to the COVID-19 outbreak. This new temporary measure is the result of an emergency order introduced by the Ontario Government to help fight the illegal cannabis market. The emergency order will last for 14 days, with the possibility of an extension if the government’s Emergency Order on business closures is extended.
Originally, Ontario cannabis retail stores were considered an “essential service” by the provincial government, and stores were allowed to keep their doors open to serve consumers. However, shortly after this decision was made, the government posted a revised list of essential services, with cannabis retail stores no longer being considered essential. As a result, retail stores were forced to close their doors for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, by deeming legal cannabis retailers non-essential, a shift back to the illicit market was inevitable, especially with dwindling supplies and delayed delivery times on the provincially-owned Ontario Cannabis Store.
The new measures announced on April 7 will allow legal cannabis retailers to continue conducting business, while at the same time complying with social distancing measures to ensure public health and safety. Below is a summary of the key requirements for legal cannabis retailers conducting delivery and curbside pick-up:
- Retailers must continue to comply with all laws and regulations ensuring cannabis is not sold or delivered to anyone under 19, or who appears to be intoxicated. The retailer or employee must ask for and inspect identification if they suspect a customer is under 25 years old.
- Authorized cannabis stores will be permitted to sell, deliver, and offer curbside pick-up of cannabis and other items from Monday to Sunday, between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m.
- The maximum purchase amount allowed is 30 grams of dried cannabis (or equivalent) per transaction.
- Curbside pick-up and delivery allows customers to order and pay for their products in advance, by phone or online. Payment must be completed at the time of the order and in advance of delivery, not during the pick-up.
- Cannabis retail store owners, operators and managers may choose to leave a door open on the premises during operating hours, provided that in doing so they remain in compliance with the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores (e.g. licensees must ensure cannabis and accessories are not visible from exterior of premises).
- For curbside pick-ups, the location of pick-up must be outdoors (i.e. outside the retail store) in an area that is in close proximity to the retail store, and that are clearly captured by the store’s surveillance cameras. The individual picking up the cannabis must be the same individual who purchased the cannabis.
- Only the licensed retailer or a direct employee (must hold CannSell certification) may deliver cannabis on behalf of the store, to ensure products are sold responsibly. Therefore, retailers cannot use the services of a third-party for the purpose of delivery (e.g. Uber).
- Retailers are permitted to charge a delivery fee. There is no limit to what this fee can be.
- Any cannabis that is purchased MUST be delivered in its original packaging to the residential address specified in the order. The cannabis MUST be received by the purchaser or another person who resides at the place of delivery, who is at least 19 years of age.
- Cannabis and accessories must be kept secure up until the point of distribution to a customer. Storage of undelivered cannabis and/or accessories overnight in a vehicle will not satisfy the AGCO’s requirements for secure storage.
- Retailers must record and retain the name and address of the purchaser and the residential address where any cannabis is delivered.
For those wondering what the status of Retail Operator Licence (ROL) and Retail Store Authorization (RSA) applications are during this time, here are a few other points of interest:
- The government is placing a temporary pause on the issuing of Retail Store Authorizations. The AGCO will not issue new store authorizations until the government’s emergency order has been lifted. However, the AGCO will still continue processing retail store authorization applications and conducting eligibility assessments to the extent possible.
- The AGCO will also continue to issue Retail Operator Licences to the extent possible.
- To date, the AGCO has issued 423 Retail Operator Licences and 59 Retail Store Authorizations.
- On March 18, 2020, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) announced that it would be extending by three months the term of all the active liquor, gaming and cannabis licences, authorizations and registrations it has issued. Given the continued spread of COVID-19 and the province’s ongoing response to it, the AGCO will be further extending the term of all active liquor, gaming and cannabis licences, registrations and authorizations by an additional three months, for a total of six months in all.
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At Cannabis License Experts, we provide you with the guidance to plan your cannabis business, acquire funding, navigate the legal requirements, and acquire the appropriate licence for your operations. As the Canadian cannabis industry develops, more and more licensed producers will be needed to meet the demands of consumers.
Cannabis License Experts offers support from day one of starting your cannabis business, including strategic planning, floor plan preparation, site audits, SOPs, Preventive Control Plans (PCPs) and more.
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Contact us today to discover how we can license and legalize your cannabis business to meet federal or provincial regulations.