The Legislative Assembly of Ontario has received Royal Assent for Bill 13, an omnibus bill that will, among other things, allow private cannabis retailers in Ontario to deliver their products directly to customers.
Supporting People and Businesses Act
In October, Nina Tangri, Associate Minister of Small Businesses and Red Tape Reduction introduced Bill 13, which amends the Cannabis License Act, along with 24 other bills. The bill was passed 45 to 16 and received Royal Assent on December 2.
Section 20 of the Cannabis License Act has been rewritten to include delivery, now reading that “cannabis may be distributed either in person in a cannabis retail store or in an area immediately adjacent to it or by delivery.”
Along with the Cannabis License Act, the 2017 Cannabis Control Act was amended as well, particularly the section regarding when cannabis is not provided to a purchaser at the time of sale, including delivery among the instances where it’s allowed. Customers can still only receive cannabis from licensed retailers, though.
Bill 13 also re-enacts the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation Act, which allows the Ontario Cannabis Store to continue to have exclusive rights to being an online store without a storefront. “The Corporation is given the exclusive right to sell cannabis online, without doing so through a cannabis retail store,” the amendment reads.
The Cannabis Licence Act was also amended to allow “searches, including warrantless searches, of conveyances for enforcement purposes” and to give the Lieutenant Governor in Council the authority to make regulations governing rules and processes with respect to resolutions of band councils containing a prescribed request relating to the delivery of cannabis or other products to the reserve.
The Bill was passed 45 to 16.
Delivery Not the Issue
During the debate around Bill 13, Minister Tangri told the LAO, “Legislators and policy-makers have to ask themselves why consumers are choosing to purchase cannabis from unlicensed sources. One of the main factors is a lack of reliable access to delivery services on the licensed market. This isn’t just an anecdote. Public polling provided by Navigator this past January reveals that Canadians and Ontarians are not only receptive to retail delivery but see it as the single most important step that could be taken to combat the unlicensed, illegal market.”
She went on to say, “By passing Bill 13, Ontario’s legislators can permanently remove this structural imbalance between licensed and non-licensed retailers and create a fair playing field that compels consumers to move to licensed channels. We are saying yes to supporting the people of this province, and we are making sure that we have safe cannabis stores, and we are getting rid of the illicit market.”
Unfortunately, not everyone in the Assembly agreed, and the majority of the debate was not about allowing delivery, but about the proliferation of cannabis stores in the Greater Toronto Area. Business owners, customers, community members, and Members of Provincial Parliament have been persistent in their demand for answers from Ford’s government regarding why it appears to be the “Wild West” for cannabis stores.
“You opened up Bill 13, you made it possible for cannabis to be delivered from home to home, and yet you didn’t acknowledge that this massive issue exists,” said Catherine Fife, NDP MPP for Waterloo.
When Bill 13 was first introduced, NDP MPP Marit Stiles tried to add Bill 29, a bill that would give municipalities more control over where cannabis retailers popped up, however, Conservative MPPs voted against it, much to the disappointment of several MPPs.
While private retailers can rejoice at winning delivery and curbside pick-up, Ontario still has a long way to go before it achieves a fair cannabis market.