The Ontario government has allowed cannabis stores to start offering cubside sales and delivery in a bid to “fight against the illegal cannabis market”.

The province issued a state of emergency on March 17 in an effort to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus. All non-essential businesses were ordered to close, but cannabis stores were deemed essential and allowed to continue trading.

That all changed on Friday, April 3, when a new list of essential businesses was published. It did not include cannabis stores, and they were instructed to shut up shop on Saturday.

The Ontario government has now issued an Emergency Order to temporarily allow authorized cannabis retail stores to offer delivery and curbside pick-up. The changes are effective immediately and they allow retailers to offer these services until the provincial emergency ends.

They can sell to consumers from 9am to 11pm, seven days a week. The maximum purchase amount of 30 grams per person remains in place.

If consumers want to buy at curbside, they must place an order over the phone or online and pay for it in advance. The government-owned Ontario Cannabis Store previously had a monopoly on online sales, but it recently permitted retailers to offer click-and-collect, so some businesses are set up for this.

Store staff must make the curbside sales in an area covered by CCTV. They must also ensure that the person that orders the cannabis is the one that collects it.

Retailers are not permitted to use a third-party delivery company, but they are permitted to charge for delivery.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario also announced that has placed “a temporary pause” on issuing new retail licenses during the coronavirus lockdown. However, it will continue to process retail manager licenses and retail operator licenses to ensure staffing levels are not affected.

Cannabis advocates said they hope the province will continue to allow retailers to offer delivery services once the coronavirus lockdown ends.

Until now, the province-owned Ontario Cannabis Store has been the only retailer that can offer delivery. It has seen the average number of orders per day double to around 5,000 since cannabis retailers were ordered to close down.

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