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B.C. rolls out plans for online pot sales, locks down weed warehouse

A woman exhales while smoking a joint during the annual 420 marijuana rally on Parliament hill on Wednesday, April 20, 2016 in Ottawa.
A woman exhales while smoking a joint during the annual 420 marijuana rally on Parliament hill on Wednesday, April 20, 2016 in Ottawa. Justin Tang/CP

When pot becomes legal on October 17, the B.C. government says there will be an authorized place to buy it online.

Recreational cannabis will be legally available for purchase online through the province’s government pot retailer, the B.C. Cannabis Stores, and the the province has now settled on an e-commerce platform to deliver the service.

READ MORE: Public cannabis stores in B.C. to operate under retail brand ‘BC Cannabis Stores’

The contract has gone to Shopify, the same company that won the right to run the Ontario government’s web-based pot sales.

“Shopify was chosen for its proven record of on-time execution, user-friendly design and long-term approach to anticipating consumer needs beyond the implementation phase,” said BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) CEO Blain Lawson.

All purchases are to be age-verified both online, and at the point of delivery by courier service. The province says it’s also looking at the possibility of ordering online with in-store pickup.

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READ MORE: B.C. Government introduces new legislation to deal with marijuana legalization

The contract was tendered through BC Bid, and the province said it conducted an extensive review of the applications. To win, Shopify had to prove it could provide the province with two different websites, one for consumers and one for private retail stores.

It also had to provide age-verification for would-be shoppers, integration with the LDB’s existing warehouse management system and the ability to run a customer call centre.

WATCH: What will happen to existing B.C. marijuana dispensaries?

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What will happen to existing B.C. marijuana dispensaries? – Apr 26, 2018

While the province’s own online cannabis retail program will be the only legal place to buy weed online under the new regime, what remains unclear is how the province plans to conduct enforcement against the dozens of online pot dispensaries already in operation in the province.

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READ MORE: How to buy weed in Canada when it’s legalized

The LDB has also locked down a location for its new cannabis distribution centre, which will be separate from its liquor warehousing.

The new 6,500-square metre facility is located on No. 6 Road in Richmond, and will house about 130 staff, including a call centre.

In a media release, the Ministry of the Attorney General says it is undertaking measures to “guarantee the security and quality of all products stored in the facility,” which will include inventory reviews, stock rotation, expiry dates and lot numbers.

It said that licensed producers will be responsible for quality testing and pre-packaging products.

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