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Cannabis Legalization

Let legal pot shops deliver, critics say, as Ontario Cannabis Store brings express service to London

Ontario’s marijuana wholesaler is expanding its expedited delivery service to London, the only city in Southwestern Ontario where the new service is available.

But critics of the Ontario government’s cannabis delivery monopoly are questioning why pot shops aren’t allowed to offer the same service.

Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS), the government-run pot wholesaler and delivery service, has rolled out its express delivery service to seven more cities across the province. Orders placed will be delivered within three days at no cost.

“OCS is pleased to continue increasing access to legal cannabis for Ontario adults and making it easy for consumers to choose legal,” spokesperson Joanna Hui said in an email.

OCS is the only legal option for cannabis delivery in the province, but it has drawn fire for being too slow and expensive.

Ontario briefly let cannabis retail stores offer delivery and curbside pickup — a move the industry had long demanded — in April amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the temporary emergency order was lifted in July, despite protests from many of the brick-and-mortar stores, which argued the services let them compete with the black market.

The Friendly Stranger at 1135 Richmond St. was the only London pot shop to offer both delivery and curbside pickup.

Company president James Jesty said the government wants to maintain a monopoly on pot delivery in Ontario.

“I fully think that we should be able to do delivery,” said Jesty, whose company struck a partnership deal to open the store near Western University’s gates. “We’re still in COVID, we’re still being asked to stay home.”

Money was spent hiring drivers and renting vehicles to set up the Friendly Stranger’s delivery service, which was free for orders over $50, he said. “When they took it away from us, it really didn’t make a lot of sense.”

David Clement, North American affairs manager for the Consumer Choice Centre, said only letting OCS deliver pot products hurts consumers by leaving them with no other options.

“COVID-19 has really rallied people to support local businesses,” said Clement, whose centre has lobbied provinces to let retailers offer same-day delivery. “That same concept would apply to cannabis retail.”

OCS offers same-day delivery in more than a dozen cities, mostly in the Greater Toronto Area.

Last month, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), the province’s marijuana regulator, pledged to increase the pace of pot shop approvals from 20 to 40 a month, starting this fall.

In London, where seven marijuana retailers now operate, another 15 are in the final approval stage.

Originally published here.

PA Gov. Wolf has it right on legalizing cannabis

Washington, D.C. – Unveiling his legislative priorities on Tuesday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf formally called on the State Legislature to legalize cannabis as a means of helping support small business funding across the state.

He proposed that proceeds from cannabis businesses go to restorative justice programs and small business financing as a measure of COVID-19 relief,

Yaël Ossowski, deputy director of the consumer advocacy group Consumer Choice Center, praised Wolf’s call.

“For too long, lives and resources have been wasted in the failed War on Drugs. By calling on state lawmakers to legalize recreational cannabis, Gov. Wolf is taking the next practical step to save lives and improve our communities,” said Ossowski.

“The benefits of legalization have already paid out massive dividends to the people in Colorado, California, Michigan, Oregon, and more, via tax revenues and also by reversing the harsh criminalization that has had a disproportionate impact on low-income and minority communities.

“As the fifth-most populous and one of the most diverse states in the country, Pennsylvania can show every state in our nation that legalizing cannabis is a positive step forward for justice and the economy,” said Ossowski.

“Officials should ensure that Pennsylvania embraces smart cannabis policy, one that encourages competition, entrepreneurship, avoids red tape and eradicates the black market to spur a new revolution in entrepreneurship and opportunity.

“The Consumer Choice Center applauds the governor’s efforts, and hopes legislators line up behind his proposal,” said Ossowski.

Read more about the Consumer Choice Center’s Smart Cannabis Policy Recommendations

CONTACT:

Yaël Ossowski

Deputy Director

Consumer Choice Center

yael@consumerchoicecenter.org

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva, Lima, Brasilia, and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org.

Province ends pot shop deliveries and curbside pickup

Ontario pot shops are angry that as of today the province is putting an end to delivery and curbside pickup. The stores were allowed to offer both services under a temporary emergency order during the pandemic. Nicole Martin reports, there are worries this decision will lead to more demand on the black market.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Ontario’s cannabis curbside pick-up and delivery options to end with emergency measures

“It is completely unacceptable that the province is making the cannabis market less consumer friendly,” says David Clement, North American affairs manager for the Consumer Choice Center

Ontario cannabis retailers have had to be flexible through a series of evolving regulations through the COVID-19 pandemic.

When emergency measures were implemented, some were delighted that cannabis was deemed an essential service and retailers could continue operating. In April, cannabis was briefly dropped from the list of essentials — only to be re-added, with more flexibility for physically distanced transactions, like curbside pickup and delivery. Services like Leafly and Dutchie partnered with retailers to help facilitate purchases and distribution, while others made a go of it on their own with custom-built solutions.

But now, curbside and delivery will no longer be an option for Ontario’s private retailers once emergency measures are no longer in place, reports BNN Bloomberg.

“It is completely unacceptable that the province is making the cannabis market less consumer friendly,” said David Clement, North American affairs manager for the Consumer Choice Center, in a statement. “Banning curbside pick-up and delivery options ultimately makes the legal market less attractive, which only serves to embolden the illegal market, who have long offered these services.”

While it hasn’t been proven that legal cannabis deliveries impede the illicit market, retailers who have invested in implementing new technologies and welcome any and all ways to move product, are similarly unhappy.

“To take away that opportunity for customers that want to use a delivery or a curbside (pickup) – which we’re still seeing as a pretty significant piece of our business – to take that away and force people to now have to interact and go into stores, when realistically there’s no reason for it … doesn’t make a lot of sense,” James Jesty, president of Friendly Stranger Holdings Corp., told MJBiz Daily.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, masks are now mandatory indoors in public spaces in many, but not all, parts of the province. Delivery will continue to be available through the Ontario Cannabis Store, the province’s ecommerce site and wholesale supplier to private retailers.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

The CCC Testifies In British Columbia

On Friday, June 12th the Consumer Choice Center’s David Clement was invited to present to the British Columbia’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Services. In their annual review in the budgetary process, the province’s finance committee invites, and hears from experts, on various policies that impact the provincial budget.

As part of the consultation, David represented the CCC specifically on two key points:

  1. Urging the BC government to repeal it’s 20% vape tax
  2. Asking that the BC government remove the Provincial Sales Tax from medical cannabis.

Below is a copy of David’s remarks:

Hello members of the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Services. I’d like to first off thank you for the ability to present here today, and to represent the voice of consumers in British Columbia. I’m David Clement, and I act as the North American Affairs Manager for the Consumer Choice Center.

As a representative of a consumer advocacy group, I appear here today to ask that the Government of BC repeal its 20% vape tax, and remove PST from medical cannabis purchases.

For the vape tax, we urge the government to repeal the vape tax, for both cannabis products and nicotine, for the following reasons:

  1. Harm reduction: We know, from mountains of evidence, from credible public health agencies like Public Health England, that vape products are significantly less dangerous when compared to products that involve combustion. Because vape products are reduced risk products, we feel that the additional tax is counter-productive from a harm reduction perspective. Having additional taxation on cannabis and nicotine vape products, wrongly, signals to consumers that these products are more harmful than the alternatives, when the opposite is true. Taxation should be applied based on the continuum of risk, and this tax runs in the opposite direction.
  2. Black market alternatives: Specifically for cannabis, we know that the illegal market has long provided consumers with vaping products. Unfortunately, we also know that these black market products often contain dangerous thickening agents like Vitamin E Acetate. Vitamin e acetate is now known to be one of the main causes of vaping related illnesses in North America, which are not present in legal products, nor is it allowed to be in legal products. The 20% vape tax makes legal, regulated, and safe cannabis vapes considerably more expensive when compared to black market alternatives, which incentives consumers to purchase dangerous and unsafe products. It is important to remember that this 20% cannabis vape tax is added on top of the following taxes and fees that inflate the price of legal products:
    1. The federal excise tax
    2. The federal portion of the sales tax
    3. Application screening fees
    4. Security clearance fees
    5. Annual regulatory fee

The cannabis vape tax should be repealed because it simply piles on to the overtaxation of legal cannabis in this country, and only benefits illegal dealers, who’s products now become more attractive in terms of price. In order for the legal market to compete with the illegal market, it has to be able to offer products at comparable price points. The vape tax makes that nearly impossible.

Beyond the vape tax, we also strongly urge that the Province of BC remove the PST from medical cannabis products. The PST should be removed, firstly, because it would be the consistent thing to do. Other prescription medications in BC do not have the PST applied to them, thus removing PST would simply give parity to medical cannabis. Beyond that, it is incredibly unfair to have additional taxes for medical cannabis patients. In many instances patients are on fixed income, or even disability. It is disproportionate and punitive to add additional taxation to the medicine these patients have been prescribed by their doctors. It was a mistake for the federal government to apply a sales tax to medical cannabis, but luckily the province can somewhat right that wrong. 

Thank you for hearing my concerns, and I look forward to your questions. 


The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Johannesburg, Brasilia, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Liberar entrega de maconha no Canadá pós-pandemia ajudará a combater o comércio ilegal

Tornar a entrega de Cannabis permanente e não temporária seria um grande passo em frente para o mercado jurídico.

Uma das maiores críticas à legalização canadense da Cannabis é que suas regras complicadas e opções limitadas de varejo não podem competir com o mercado clandestino. O que ajudaria? Permitir que as entregas de Cannabis aos varejistas continuem após a pandemia.

Também melhoraria bastante o sistema de entrega monopolizado que existia antes do Covid-19 afrouxar alguns regulamentos de distribuição. Por exemplo, antes da pandemia, a Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) era incapaz de fazer a entrega no mesmo dia via Canada Post . Quando o OCS tentou oferecer a entrega no mesmo dia contratando um serviço de terceiros, o varejista on-line provincial só poderia oferecê-lo para selecionar áreas e logo interrompeu a opção por causa da alta demanda.

A medida temporária que permite o recolhimento na calçada e a entrega em domicílio pelos varejistas não é perfeita e como em qualquer política do governo, o percalço está nos detalhes.

Por um lado, há uma disposição de que o entregador deve ser um funcionário do varejista. Essa é uma restrição desnecessária que limita significativamente a expansão. Os varejistas não estão equipados com capital nem conhecimento para operar uma frota de veículos. Isto se destaca quando a demanda aumenta. Eles devem ser capazes de contratar esse serviço como qualquer outra empresa.

Em segundo lugar, o governo Ford deve permitir que serviços de terceiros sejam usados por revendedores licenciados, sem a necessidade de uma licença para essa função. Tudo o que Ontário precisa fazer é seguir o exemplo de Manitoba, que permite isso. Fazer essa alteração oferecerá benefício ao consumidor, permitindo que empresas de serviços de tecnologia entrem no mercado, dando aos varejistas legais uma vantagem sobre o mercado ilegal.

Eliminar a necessidade de funcionários e permitir que empresas de tecnologia não licenciadas atendam às lojas expande as opções que os varejistas têm para levar produtos aos clientes. Eles poderiam terceirizar completamente sua entrega por meio de terceiros com uma licença de entrega de maconha ou trabalhar com outros aplicativos de entrega, como os restaurantes.

A província pode exigir que os motoristas não licenciados tenham seu certificado CannSell, que é semelhante ao Smart Serve para álcool. O CannSell custa US$ 64,99 e forneceria aos motoristas o conhecimento necessário para detectar deficiências e proteger o acesso a menores.

Para a implantação, a província poderá legalizar esse tipo de entrega amanhã e conceder aos motoristas um período de carência de 30 dias para concluir o CannSell. Quando a província anunciou que os restaurantes podiam entregar álcool com pedidos de comida, eles fizeram exatamente isso, dando aos motoristas de entrega de comida um mês para obter o Certificado de Serviço Inteligente.

Tornar a entrega de Cannabis permanente e não temporária seria um grande passo em frente para o mercado jurídico em Ontário. Isso beneficiaria significativamente os varejistas. Mais importante, porém, beneficiaria os consumidores ao expandir e aprimorar suas opções.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Allowing cannabis delivery is a good start. But too much weed is still being sold on the illicit market

Even with looser regulations, consumer demands still aren’t being met, writes David Clement, North American affairs manager at the Consumer Choice Center

One of the biggest criticisms of Canada’s legalization of cannabis is that its cumbersome rules and limited retail options can’t compete with the black market. What would help? Allowing cannabis home deliveries from retailers to continue after the pandemic.

It would also vastly improve the monopolized delivery system that existed before COVID-19 loosened some distribution regulations. For example, prior to the pandemic, the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) was incapable of doing same-day delivery via Canada Post. When the OCS did attempt to offer same-day delivery by contracting out a third party service, the provincial online retailer could only offer it to select areas, and soon discontinuedthat option altogether due to high demand.

The temporary measure allowing curbside pick-up and home deliveries by retailers is a no-brainer, but as with any government policy, the devil is in the details. Ontario’s is still a far-from-perfect system.

For one, there’s a provision that the delivery person must be an employee of the retailer. This is an unnecessary restriction that significantly limits scaling up. Retailers aren’t equipped with the capital nor the expertise to operate a fleet of vehicles. This is especially true as demand rises. They should be able to contract this out just like any other business can.

Secondly, the Ford government should allow third-party services to be used by licensed retailers, without the need for a licence. All Ontario has to do is follow Manitoba’s lead, which allows this. Making this change has the consumer benefit of allowing tech service companies to enter the market, giving legal retailers a leg up on the black market.

Eliminating the employee provision and allowing non-licensed tech companies to serve storefronts expands the options retailers have for getting products to customers. They could completely outsource their delivery through a third party with a cannabis delivery license, or they could work with other delivery apps, like restaurants do.

The province could require those non-licensed drivers to have their CannSell certificate, which is similar to Smart Serve for alcohol. CannSell costs $64.99 and would provide drivers the expertise to spot impairment and protect access from minors.

For the roll-out, the province could make this type of delivery legal tomorrow, and give drivers a 30-day grace period to complete their CannSell. When the province announced that restaurants could deliver alcohol with food orders, they did exactly that, giving food delivery drivers a month to get their Smart Serve Certificate.

Making cannabis delivery permanent rather than temporary would be a huge step forward for the legal market in Ontario. It would significantly benefit retailers. But more importantly, it would benefit consumers by expanding and enhancing their options.

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

COVID-19: Retailers scrambling to respond to a surge in e-commerce orders during pandemic

Retailers have been left either struggling with a surge in demand for online ordering and delivery or ruing their lack of a web shop

Cannabis retailers in Ontario exhaled a collective sigh of relief earlier this week when the provincial government threw them a lifeline by finally — albeit temporarily — allowing them to offer online sales after shutting down their physical storefronts last weekend.

Previously, only the government-owned Ontario Cannabis Store was allowed to sell cannabis online, a “silly and misguided” policy, according to the Consumer Choice Centre, a consumer advocacy group. Now, for the time being, cannabis stores can offer delivery and curbside pickup.

Read more here


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Emergency order for cannabis puts Waterloo’s Bud & Sally back in business

Province reverses decision on weed retailers, allowing them to stay in business to continue fight against black market

People will soon be able to pickup cannabis curbside from local licensed retailers like Bud & Sally in uptown Waterloo.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario has reversed its previous decision to ban cannabis retailers from operating, meaning that individual stores can now provide curbside pickup and delivery options.

“To continue the fight against the illegal cannabis market and support cannabis retail store operators and legal recreational cannabis consumers, the Government of Ontario has issued an Emergency Order to temporarily allow authorized cannabis retail stores to offer delivery and curbside pickup,” the AGCO stated in a media release on Tuesday.

“These changes are effective immediately and will last for the duration of the period of declared provincial emergency, with the possibility of extension if the government’s Emergency Order on business closures is extended.”

On March 17, Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency in Ontario, because of COVID-19, and ordered the closure of non-essential businesses. Authorized cannabis retail stores were initially deemed essential businesses. On April 3, a revised list was issued, further reducing the number of essential businesses, and cannabis retail stores were among those that had been ordered to close as of April 4.

John Radostits, who just opened Waterloo’s Bud & Sally in mid-March, had questioned what appeared to be a double standard, as delivery of alcohol with takeout food had been OK’d by the province and the online Ontario Cannabis Store continued to provide delivery of cannabis.

“Yes good news from the AGCO,” he said Wednesday, in an email. “We are currently working on our plan to open with the curbside pickup ASAP.

“All customers will have to visit our website www.budandsally.com and order from our full catalogue and pay in advance for all cannabis and accessories. The next step will be to come to the storefront sidewalk (32 King St. S) and we will bring the order out to them. We are currently updating our website and should be ready within the next day or so.”

Radostits said he’ll also be looking at the logistics of adding a delivery option, moving forward.

David Clement, Toronto-based North American affairs manager for the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), said the only issue with the ACGO’s announcement is that the allowance is temporary.

“Prohibiting retailers from offering delivery was always a silly and misguided policy,” said Clement.

“Once everything has returned to normal, our hope is that retailers will continue to be allowed to offer delivery options for their consumers. Allowing for retailers to deliver will help the legal market compete with the black market, which is something that everyone should be on board with.”

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

Ontario cuts essential workplaces list to limit COVID-19 spread

The Ontario government ordered more workplaces closed — including bricks-and-mortar cannabis shops and some industrial construction sites — in a stepped up campaign to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

“We can’t stop now,” Premier Doug Ford said Friday. “There’s 1,600 people out there who need us to do everything we can in the next 30 days to help save them.”

Public health COVID-19 models show that many people could die by the end of the month unless more stringent social distancing measures are taken.

A new list of businesses were ordered to arrange for staff to work remotely or shutter their operations by 11:59 p.m. Saturday.

“All industrial construction except critical industrial projects will stop,” Ford said. “Only necessary infrastructure projects like hospitals and transporation will continue.”

While no new residential construction projects will be allowed to break ground, those already under construction will continue.

Ford said the vast majority of Ontario workers have now been told to stay home.

“We’ve had to shut down most of our economy,” he said.

Businesses that remain open include those that supply essential services, supermarkets, restaurants for take-out or delivery, alcohol stores like the LCBO, pharmacies, gas stations, funeral services, vets for urgent care only, hotels and cheque cashing services.

Insurance, telecommunications, transportation and maintenance services can also continue.

Stores that sell hardware, vehicle parts, pet and animal supplies, office goods and computer products will only be allowed to provide alternative methods of sale such as curb side pick-up or delivery.

David Clement, of the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), said it was a shame the Ford government is shutting down cannabis retailers.

“This move does nothing but embolden the black market, who will obviously continue to meet consumer demand,” he said in a statement.

The online option for buying from the Ontario Cannabis Store remains available.

Ford said he’s acting on the advice of his Chief Medical Officer of Health in shutting down more sectors of the economy.

However, he said people will still need to access their medication and food.

“As soon as you take that food off the shelves and close down retail you get … anarchy,” Ford said. “You get civil disobedience — people are going to do what they have to do to feed their family — and we don’t want to go to that point.”

Originally published here.


The Consumer Choice Center is the consumer advocacy group supporting lifestyle freedom, innovation, privacy, science, and consumer choice. The main policy areas we focus on are digital, mobility, lifestyle & consumer goods, and health & science.

The CCC represents consumers in over 100 countries across the globe. We closely monitor regulatory trends in Ottawa, Washington, Brussels, Geneva and other hotspots of regulation and inform and activate consumers to fight for #ConsumerChoice. Learn more at consumerchoicecenter.org

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