Independent cannabis retailers might be considered an essential health service for some during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it doesn’t mean their product is always easily procured.
In fact, the retailers have faced problems delivering product, according to correspondence sent to the Village of Cumberland recently looking for support for the cause. In this case, it was a business based in the B.C Interior. There was also a letter included from the Association of Canadian Cannabis Retailers (ACCRES) that had been sent to B.C. Solicitor General Mike Farnworth.
Locally, Cumberland has a couple of applicants in the process of opening up retail outlets for cannabis – Trugreen Solutions and Beaufort Botanicals, but the two operations are currently undergoing renovations, according to Village staff.
For independent retail outlets already operating, there have issues around getting product to customers at a time when most store-front retail businesses have been closed due to the pandemic.
“The regulations that regulate the industry prevent them from having online sales and from doing delivery,” Coun. Jesse Ketler said at the May 25 meeting. “That’s something other small businesses have been able to fall back on, and it’s saved a lot of small businesses.”
However, B.C. cannabis retailers have not had the opportunity, yet other provinces have changed the regulations.
In the letter to council, Dennis Schafer of Fernie’s Stick & Stone Cannabis wrote they had received a request from an elderly customer. The 90-year-old has a compromised immune system but still had to arrange for a sale involving pickup, which Schafer said was stressful for the customer and exposed the person to risk. The customer had also told them the wait times for delivery from the government stores were too lengthy.
“There are processes in place for the legal online purchase and delivery of alcohol in B.C. as well as cannabis in other provinces which have been effective at keeping their communities safe. We are asking for the same considerations,” Schafer wrote.
In the letter to Farnworth, ACCRES calls for allowing online sales and delivery to customers, with measures such as requiring photo ID showing age at the time of purchase.
“These measures would be effective in supporting the social and physical distancing measures recommended by public health authorities,” the association’s letter said.
Coun. Vickey Brown highlighted the mechanisms to verify factors like customer age to express support for the request.
“I don’t see why it would be treated any differently,” she said.
Other members of council also spoke in support of the idea.
“It needs to be brought up to speed with the way other products of that nature are treated,” Coun. Gwyn Sproule said.
Council unanimously passed a motion to write a letter of support for the call to change the process in the province for independent cannabis retailers and permit online sales and direct delivery.