Privately owned cannabis stores in British Columbia are now allowed to deliver nonmedical marijuana to consumers through regular mail and other delivery-service providers, a move the industry believes will direct more illicit sales to the regulated market.
The provincial government said the move would provide economic opportunities for stores and put them on a more even competitive footing with the province’s online retail platform operated by the BC Liquor Distribution Branch (BLDB).
Until the new regulation entered into force July 8, the BCLDB’s service held a monopoly on recreational cannabis e-commerce.
The new policy means thriving illicit cannabis delivery services might finally start to experience genuine competition.
The province was left without door-to-door cannabis delivery for approximately the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic because the monopoly BCLDB used Canada Post for deliveries.
Canada Post had been directing recipients to their local post office for pick-up.
That effectively meant illicit door-to-door delivery services faced almost no competition from the regulated industry.
“Private retailers welcome this expanded delivery regime. This is a significant tool for our members,” Jaclynn Pehota, executive director of the Retail Cannabis Council of British Columba, said in a news release.
“Knowing that the government supports and is creating parity within the legal cannabis industry will help retailers thrive and will continue to ensure British Columbians have a choice as consumers.”
The province has issued 435 licenses for nonmedical cannabis stores out of roughly 556 submitted applications.
“Since federal legalization of non-medical cannabis, we have continued to look for ways to support the cannabis industry in our province while providing safe and accessible options for British Columbians,” Mike Farnworth, minister of public safety, said in a statement.
“Expanding delivery-service options not only builds equality within the market, it also gives consumers one more reason to buy legal instead of illicit.”
British Columbia’s regulated marijuana sales have stagnated in recent months.
In April, British Columbians purchased 52.9 million Canadian dollars ($40.6 million) worth of cannabis products, down 6.2% from the previous month.
B.C. was the only large province to experience a sales decline that month.
Sales in Vancouver, the province’s largest city, declined by 1.7% to CA$18.1 million.
Vancouver was the only large Canadian city with a cannabis sales decline.
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Separately, the province released the findings of a chemical analysis of illegal cannabis products.
B.C. said it sent samples of illicit marijuana flower and vaporizer cartridge extracts to federal labs for testing and found that every sample contained pesticides that are not allowed for use in regulated cannabis.
“Key findings of this study indicate that pesticides are widely used in illicit cannabis production and that advertised THC levels are overstated in illicit vaporizer cartridges,” the government noted.
“This study adds to a growing body of evidence showing that when you buy cannabis from the illicit market, you can’t be sure what’s in it.”