Private cannabis retailers will be given the green light to begin online sales from Tuesday.
Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis is exiting the digital marketplace after the provincial government made the legal change last year.
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But according to Matthew Anderson of cannabis retailer Fire and Flower, it’s not that easy for the company to start selling, citing regulatory hurdles.
He said that’s why Fire and Flower won’t immediately enter online sales.
“It gives us pause,” Anderson said.
“There are a few additional restrictions that make us wonder if this is an economically viable model.”
Cannabis retailers must have their license approved by the AGLC for online sales – and these stores must also have a physical retail store in order to obtain the license.
In a statement, the AGLC said it is also the responsibility of companies to ensure that “age restriction” is in place, a process that must go beyond the obligation for a potential customer to enter a date of birth before accessing the website.
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“In addition, licensed retailers that sell online will have criteria to include on their websites so that consumers can verify that the website is associated with a valid licensee,” the statement said.
The AGLC also introduced a 6% markup on the wholesale price of cannabis products at the end of February.
“Even as a large retail chain, we question the economic viability (of online sales),” Anderson said. “So I would be much more challenged if I was a small retailer.”
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Businesses will need to find delivery methods – either direct employee or using Canada Post or courier.
Andy Palalas of High Tide said the online market is a game-changer for his pan-Canadian company, keen to deliver as soon as possible.
“We have proven in other provinces that we can operate online sales and home deliveries in a safe and secure way, which is really the talking point around this rollout.”
Palalas said with about 60 stores in Alberta, he’s glad the province is no longer an exception with online sales compared to other provinces.
“We have been operating in Ontario by delivery since the start of the pandemic,” he explained. “More time (for the Alberta rollout) is always nice, but we can’t wait to get started.”
As of Feb. 23, the AGLC had yet to issue approval for online sites. Global News asked for an updated number of approvals on Thursday.
Once an approval is granted, the licensee can launch their online store on or after March 8.
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