On February 14, 2022, Saskatchewan’s proof of vaccination requirement ended. Originally enacted in October 2021, the policy required people to show proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter some businesses and other public venues, including cannabis stores.
The policy was met with mixed reviews and questioned by some in the industry, partly given that cannabis stores were deemed an essential service during the pandemic, but retailers were forced to adapt and comply.
Trisha Girard, Founder and CEO of Tack’d Cannabis in Martensville, Saskatchewan says the vaccine passport didn’t really impact her business. While retailers only had two days to implement the passport, Martensville ensured her staff were prepared. “We prepped and trained staff properly on how to ask for it. How people were treated was really important.”
The public order allowed a customer who could not provide proof of vaccination to place an order in advance, walk-in, and pick-up the order. Girard says this helped ease the process. Remaining calm also was key. “I have been in business for many years,” says Girard. “I look back at the times I overreacted, and it didn’t help.”
When asked how removing the vaccine passport will impact business, Girard wonders if it will actually hurt business. “There are a lot of options for cannabis stores that people can go to now.”
Saskatchewan was the first to announce the end of its proof of vaccination requirements. Other provinces are following suit. Ontario announced it will be removing its proof of vaccination policy at the start of March. Alberta ended its vaccine requirements last week, while Manitoba’s public health orders will be lifted on March 15.
However, none of these provinces included cannabis stores in their proof of vaccination requirements. Quebec was the first jurisdiction in Canada to require a vaccine passport to enter its government-run cannabis stores and liquor stores. On February 11, Health Minister Christian Dubé said it is possible the vaccine passport system will be suspended and only revived during the next COVID-19 wave, if necessary.