Ontario’s privately-run cannabis stores will no longer be permitted to deliver or offer curbside pickup once an emergency order issued by the province in response to COVID-19 expires.
“As our province carefully moves towards recovery, the (emergency order) to temporarily allow for cannabis retail curbside pickup and delivery will end when the declaration of emergency expires, along with other temporary measures that had been put in place to support people and business during the public health emergency,” said Richard Clark, communications director for Ontario's Finance Minister, in an emailed statement.
Ontario's state of emergency is set to expire on July 15. Premier Doug Ford's office said it would introduce a motion Wednesday to extend it until July 24. The government introduced legislation on Tuesday to extend some pandemic emergency orders over the next year, but not measures related to cannabis sales.
Canada’s most populous province declared a state of emergency on March 17. Ontario issued a list of essential workplaces allowed to remain open on March 23 that included “cannabis stores and cannabis producers.” Those businesses were dropped from an updated list issued on April 3, forcing pot shops to close for an initial period of 14 days after April 4.
On April 7, the province passed an emergency order allowing pot retailers to temporarily sell through click-and-collect and delivery channels. Online sales and delivery had previously been exclusive to the government-run Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS).
Private cannabis stores in Ontario praised the move to keep their businesses alive during the pandemic.
“Click-and-collect was a lifeline for us,” Badyr Valcarcel, director of retail operations at Shiny Bud in North York, told Yahoo Finance Canada last month.
The opportunity to expand into new online sales has even spurred innovation among retailers. A number of observers have called on the province for a permanent expansion of ecommerce to private stores.
With files from The Canadian Press.
Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist.