Urban, Rural Cannabis Retailers Say Home Delivery, Security Changes in B.C. Will Be Huge For Their Businesses
Yesterday (June 17), cannabis retailers in B.C. received some welcome news: the province will allow retailers to offer home delivery to their customers. It is also eliminating the required security verification for cannabis workers.
Home Delivery Coming Soon
According to a press release, as of July 15, retailers will be able to deliver non-medical cannabis “directly to consumers.” Head of Marketing for South Vancouver cannabis retailer THC Canada Colin Bambury told Cannabis Health that there are several reasons for both shop staff and consumers to be excited.
“One of the biggest things that we’re most excited about is that we’ll finally be able to answer, ‘yes,’” he said, noting that THC gets close to 10 calls a day asking if a home delivery option is available. “It’s cool that we’ll be able to actually fulfill those deliveries,” he said.
Bambury said there are obviously several logistics that need to be sorted out, including hiring new staff, determining whether increased storage space is necessary, and how much sales volume deliveries might account for.
B.C. Eliminates Security Verification For Workers
By eliminating the security verification for retail employees, the province says it will save both retailers and the government time and money. In more than 7,000 security screenings, the province says it “has not identified any significant risk of links to organized crime.” Licensees will still be subject to screenings.
Bambury noted that the security requirements for staff have made the hiring process rather onerous, especially for applicants with prior experience at legacy market retailers.
“Some of our employees had to wait to hear back for months to get that security verification,” he said. “It’s a step in the right direction. I’m happy that the findings have shown that there really is no link there between people wanting to get into the legal cannabis industry, and organized crime. It’s good to see these unnecessary and arbitrary regulations go to the wayside.”
Surprise: Announcement Comes Without Warning
While the changes are welcome, Bambury said that they came “without any kind of warning” from the provincial government.
“We hadn’t had any inkling that it was coming but it’s something I’m very, very happy about,” echoed Andrea Dobbs, co-founder of the Village Bloomery in Kitsilano. “I would have liked to have a head’s up because it would have been nice to have a plan of action. This is quite the metric to incorporate into your business model.”
Dobbs said the scrapping of the security validation for employees is “game-changing” for her shop and other B.C. retailers.
“I think that it’s a good idea, it further destigmatizes the product,” she said. “Cannabis does not equal dodgey.”
Rural B.C. Retailers Face Different Challenges
Brian Gray, the co-founder of Kootenay Cannabis, said the changes are great for his business, but present a little differently in rural communities like Castlegar.
“Obviously not being in an urban centre, there are going to be a lot more challenges,” he said, noting that the shop’s customer base is spread out throughout the Kootenay region.
The changes don’t give private retailers the same allowance as the provincial retailer (to deliver products by mail), something that would be helpful for a store in a rural area, he said. “It would be nice if they levelled the playing field fully.”
Like Bambury and Dobbs, Gray is glad to see the requirement for security verifications done away with: “It’s that slow progression towards a more realistic free market system for cannabis,” he said. “It’s a step in the right direction, but I think the government still has considerable room to improve.”
Brionne Lavoie co-owns and operates Rural Leaf, the only on-island cannabis store on Haida Gwaii, located in the village of Queen Charlotte.
“It’s huge,” he said of the changes.
“Being the only store on a remote island, we’ve got seven communities across almost 200 kilometres, and obviously with Covid, not everyone’s able to travel, and not everyone has a vehicle… I think it’s going to be very big, and it’s important to be able to offer this service,” he said.
“It’s validation that this is a legitimate business, and not this shameful space it’s been seen as for the last 30 years.”