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What are Alternatives to Opaque Windows?

Q: With the realization that opaque windows present a security risk to cannabis stores, what are the alternatives for retailers to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Cannabis Act and provincial regulations?

The Cannabis Act does not require full obstruction of visibility into a licensed cannabis retail store. Sections 29 and 30 require that cannabis and cannabis accessories not be displayed in a manner that may result in the cannabis, cannabis accessory, or their package or label being seen by a young person.

However, in the absence of formal guidance as to the interpretation of sections 29 and 30 of the Cannabis Act some provincial/territorial inspectors have taken excessively strict and, at times, inconsistent views on compliance. Since a retailer must pass provincial/territorial inspections during the construction stage, prior to cannabis or accessories being stocked, the vast majority of retailers have installed opaque window coverings in order to fully prevent any visibility into the store, regardless of where merchandise is intended to be placed within the store.

Alternatives to full obstruction of visibility include displaying cannabis and accessories in cabinets or cases that obstruct visibility from outside of the store, and/or positioning cannabis and accessories in a manner that effectively prevents a person outside of the store from seeing them, or their package or label.  A case-by-case assessment of the size and positioning of any cannabis or accessories and their distance from a door or window is required to determine whether a person with typical eyesight can reasonably see them from outside of a store.

Matthew Anderson is VP Legal & Business Affairs and Corporate Secretary of Fire & Flower.