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SK Stores Need Proof of Vaccination?

Cannabis retailers in Saskatchewan are being lumped in with event and concert venues, bars, nightclubs, and gyms in the province’s Proof of Vaccination mandates, and they’re not happy about it. According to a public health order, cannabis stores require proof of vaccination from customers to enter, even to pick up an order.

Not A Gathering Place

In September, the Government of Saskatchewan passed down a public health order that required customers visiting cannabis stores to require proof of vaccination. At first, it was limited to those doing in-store shopping, but later the order was amended to cover anyone entering the store. According to Jim Southam, president of the Weed Pool Cannabis Cooperative and owner of Prairie Cannabis, cannabis stores are being lumped in with other venues and businesses where people congregate and socialize, which he believes is unfair.

“We are the black duck of this category of stores. I didn’t feel like we should have been included in it at all, but we were,” he says, clearly exasperated. “It’s been very confusing. Initially, we were essential services, but now we are included as non-essential services? If you go to a mall you can walk into any store and touch any product, but we have to turn people away.”

Trying to Comply

Despite what Southam claims is the little direction from the provincial government, he and his team adjusted to the change in a matter of days, downloading the recommended QR code reader and started implementing the public health order.

“It’s been frustrating and confusing for the employees as well,” he says. “There have been incidences of verbal abuse and threats of human rights lawsuits. It’s especially confusing because private businesses aren’t allowed to mandate that their employees be vaccinated.”

On behalf of the Co-op, Southam has attempted to meet with relevant authorities, but they are, of course, quite busy in the midst of all of this.

“We have been operating as best as we can in accordance with the health order, but now we can’t even allow unvaccinated people to come in and pick up an order,” he says. “It’s an extra added stress to an already stressful industry right now.”

While some provinces with public retailers have mandated employees at government-run stores, Saskatchewan appears to be the only province with such strict restrictions on private cannabis stores.

Tags: COVID-19 (45), Jim Southam (4), Prairie Cannabis (4), proof of vaccination (2), Saskatchewan (9), Saskatchewan cannabis (8), Saskatchewan cannabis retail (6), saskatchewan gaming and liquor authority (1), SLGA (8), Weed Pool Cannabis Cooperative (2)