Bill tabled in Yukon to allow cannabis retailers to deliver cannabis

| David Brown

Legislation was introduced today in the Yukon that, if passed, will allow e-commerce and home delivery of cannabis from retailers. 

Minister Ranj Pillai tabled an amendment to the Territory’s Cannabis Control and Regulation Act that would allow private cannabis retailers to sell products online and deliver them directly to consumers. 

The Bill received first reading in Yukon’s Legislative assembly and will be debated at future sittings. 

According to the territorial government, online purchase and home delivery of cannabis in the Yukon through Cannabis Yukon was only about 0.2% of total cannabis sales. Cannabis Yukon is the only authorized online seller in the territory currently. Yukon has five private retail stores currently. 

A 2017 public engagement survey on cannabis showed that 58% of respondents strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement: “Regardless of whether stores are private or publicly operated, services such as online sales and home delivery should be allowed for cannabis”.

Yukon allowed online sales for private cannabis retailers through temporary emergency COVID-related legislation in 2020, but it was later repealed. This allowed cannabis consumers to place orders and pay for them online, then pick them up at the store. Currently, retailers in Yukon can allow consumers to place orders online, but they must pay for it and pick it up in-store.

Although specifics on the newly proposed amendments as part of Bill 9 Act to Amend the Cannabis Control and Regulation Act (2021) are still unknown, Jeremy Jones, owner of Triple J’s Canna Space in Whitehorse, Yukon, says his understanding is it will allow both mail delivery as well as direct delivery. 

The challenge with mail delivery in the Yukon, he explains, is it can sometimes take weeks to get a package delivered in some of the more remote parts of the territory. He says he believes this is in part why the very low amount of online sales through Cannabis Yukon, which uses Canada Post. 

By being able to deliver cannabis directly themselves or through a third party, or through a private mail service such FedEx, Jones thinks the option will be more practical and appealing to consumers. These are options Yukoners already have with the black market. 

“It’s going to give us markets in other communities outside Whitehorse,” he says. “It’s also going to help compete with the delivery of illegal cannabis. The black market is still pretty big here, but we’re taking big chunks out of it and this is going to be a big one.”

Minister Pillai, who tabled the bill, says it could help better shape the cannabis industry in the territory. 

“This amendment to the Cannabis Control and Regulation Act would pave the way for private cannabis retailers in the Yukon to sell products online and deliver them to Yukoners over the age of 19,” says Pillai.

Ontario announced plans to make direct delivery and online sales permanent for private retailers in that province earlier this month and BC began allowing retailers to deliver products to consumers in July of this year, although they do not allow mail delivery, only personal delivery. 

Alberta sent out a survey to stakeholders this year exploring interest in a delivery model as well, looking at allowing cannabis retailers to sell products online and to sell non-cannabis products (such as apparel) in their stores.

All qualified designated retail cannabis vendors in the Northwest Territories are also now eligible to operate an online store to serve NWT customers. At the moment, only one retailer, ReLeaf NT is the only currently active retail cannabis store in NWT that has expressed intereste in operating an online store. They also operate a brick-and-mortar cannabis store in Yellowknife.