Private cannabis retailers will have the green light to begin online sales starting Tuesday.
Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis is exiting the digital market after the provincial government made the legal change last year.
But according to Matthew Anderson with the cannabis retailer Fire and Flower, it’s not as simple for the business to begin selling, citing regulatory hurdles.
He said that is why Fire and Flower will not be entering online sales immediately.
“It’s causing us to pause,” Anderson said.
“There are a few added restrictions that are causing us to question if it’s an economically viable model.”
Cannabis retailers must have an endorsement to their license from AGLC for online sales — and these stores must also have a physical retail store in order to get the license.
In a statement, the AGLC said it is also businesses’ responsibility to ensure “age-gating” is in place, a process that needs to go beyond requiring a potential customer to enter a date of birth before gaining access to the website.
“Additionally, licensed retailers that sell online will have criteria to include on their websites so that consumers can verify that the website is associated with a valid licensee,” the statement reads.
The AGLC also introduced a six per cent markup to the wholesale price of cannabis products late in February.
“Even as a larger retail chain, we are questioning the economic viability (of online sales),” Anderson said. “So I would be much more challenged if I was a smaller retailer.”
Businesses will need to source delivery methods — either a direct employee or using Canada Post or a courier.
High Tide’s Andy Palalas said the online market is a gamechanger for his Canada-wide company, eager to get delivering as soon as possible.
“We’ve proven in other provinces that we can operate online sales and home delivery in a safe and secure manner, which is really the talking point around rolling this out.”
Palalas said with about 60 stores in Alberta, he is glad the province is no longer an outlier with online sales compared to other provinces.
“We’ve been operating in Ontario through delivery since the beginning of the pandemic,” he explained. “More time (for Alberta’s rollout) is always nice, but we’re eager to get going.”
As of Feb. 23, the AGLC had yet to issue any endorsements for online sites. Global News reached out for an updated number of endorsements Thursday.
Once an endorsement is granted, the licensee is able to launch its online store on or after March 8.