Dear Herb: After legalization, will I be able to order online from a licensed producer in another province, or can we only order from the province where we live? — Future Online Shopper
Dear Online Shopper: Thanks for the question. In short, my answer is "it's unlikely for now," but we don't yet know for sure.
Regulating legal retail cannabis sales will be the responsibility of the provinces and territories. Each province and territory will have its own online store to sell cannabis for delivery, which will play an important role in ensuring legal access to cannabis for all.
From what I can tell, most provinces haven't explicitly said whether they'll allow other provinces' online stores to sell into their jurisdictions, probably because most provinces are still figuring out exactly how their online sales will work.
But according to some new information circulating on Twitter, Ontario's government-owned cannabis retailer, the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation, recently said it plans to prohibit legal retailers in other provinces and territories from selling into Ontario. (See this tweet from Tuesday for details — it summarizes points made at a recent OCRC meeting, although I wasn't at that meeting myself and I haven't been able to reach the OCRC to confirm.)
From the perspective of Ontario's government weed dealer, it makes sense to prevent outside cannabis retailers from selling into Ontario. The OCRC will use its government muscle to control 100 per cent of legal online cannabis sales in Ontario — why would they allow any competition that would siphon profits away from the provincial government?
The way I see it, that same logic will likely apply to the other provinces and territories with government-owned online cannabis retailers.Advertisement
(For reference, that's almost everyone else: the governments of British Columbia, Alberta, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Nunavut all plan to operate their own online cannabis retailers, while Newfoundland plans to start with government-operated online sales before possibly opening that opportunity up to the private sector. Only Saskatchewan and Manitoba are relying on the private sector to offer online cannabis sales in their provinces.)
Like Ontario, my guess is that those government-owned online stores will want to protect their captive markets by preventing online sales from competing government-owned online stores in other provinces. Time will tell if I'm wrong about that; I'll keep an eye out for any new announcements from the provinces on whether online ordering from out-of-province will be allowed.
There's another unknown that could shape the future of interprovincial weed sales: the Comeau case, which is currently before the bigwigs at the Supreme Court of Canada. That case specifically involves interprovincial alcohol sales and provincial liquor monopolies, but the Supreme Court's ruling might impact whether provinces can operate their own legal cannabis monopolies.
All of the above applies to legal, recreational cannabis sales. If you're a registered medical cannabis user, you can already order from any licensed producer in any province as long as you're signed up with them.
And if you're ordering cannabis illegally through black market websites, of course, you can get it from anywhere — although from my own survey of illegal online dispensaries, that illicit cannabis will most likely be B.C. bud.
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