Article by Roland Cilliers, Burlington Post
If your looking for that Afghan Kush the local retailers have your back.
Cannabis and cannabis accessories are legally still available through Burlington stores. Despite some early confusion around the provincial government’s COVID-19 essential services list, cannabis retailers are now temporarily able to sell their product through a curbside or delivery model.
Supporters argue that the continued sale of cannabis through the pandemic is important because it helps the societal goal of keeping people calm in their homes, reduces demand that would go to the black market and allows those businesses to continue to have a revenue stream.
James Jesty, president of the Friendly Stranger Holdings Corp, said cannabis supports the cause of social distancing.
“It helps people chill out. It keeps people calm. It certainly helps loosening people up,” said Jesty. “We always felt that if the LCBO and Beer Store can be open then so should we. We fulfil that same need for people.”
Early in the government’s pandemic response, cannabis stores were forced to close as they didn’t appear on the original list of essential workplaces permitted to operate.
On April 7, the province changed course.
While it did not add cannabis retailers to the list of essential services, Queen’s Park issued an emergency order permitting curbside and delivery sales.
Jean Major, the registrar and chief executive of the Alcohol Gaming Commission of Ontario, said the agency had been working on a way to support cannabis consumers despite the state of emergency.
“This new measure helps address consumer demand and maintain a revenue stream for store operators while supporting the government’s broader objectives,” said Major.
The marijuana black market has been a key concern for regulators since cannabis was legalized. With retailers shuttered, the fear was that cannabis users would be pushed back to illegal drug dealers who are likely less concerned with pandemic safety measures like social distancing.
“There’s still a very robust illicit market that’s out there and that is kind of booming through this point,” said Jesty.
“They have delivery and all this access. The other risk is if we were shut down people will find it and they’ll go back to the illicit market, which is not what any of us want.”
Delivery and pickup of cannabis will be arranged so that it respects social-distancing protocols.