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Posted: May 7, 2020

Fernie supports local cannabis suppliers

By Erin Knutson

The City of Fernie Apr. 27 acknowledged the cannabis industry after it endorsed a letter of support to Stick & Stone Cannabis Co. (SSCO) in its bid to the province to alter current regulations with the rapidly changing COVID-19 climate.

“As owners of a licensed cannabis retail shop, we have been continuously evolving our operations to ensure the safety of the community as new information about COVID-19 becomes available,” said SSCO co-founder Dennis Schafer in a letter presented to mayor and council.

Cannabis retailers locally and across B.C. have petitioned the province to change policy to fit consumers as businesses have drastically altered their daily routines to accommodate the virus.

Alongside the Association of Canadian Cannabis Retailers (ACCRES), SSCO has requested two adjustments to current legislation including the addition of online sales and direct delivery in an attempt to address safety concerns as COVID-19 evolves.

“There are processes in place for the legal online purchase and delivery of alcohol in B.C. as well as cannabis in other provinces which have been effective at keeping their communities safe. We are asking for the same considerations,” said Schafer.

Mayor and council were in favour of the recommendations citing fairness to cannabis as a legalized industry and that both sectors should have the same opportunities.

The provinces of Ontario and Saskatchewan already have access to direct delivery through licensed retailers. ACCRES is currently trying to adopt these regulations in B.C.

In a letter to Solicitor General Mike Farnworth, ACCRES demonstrated the need to update current practices in its new recommendations to support the industry and its patrons.

“We have a wide range of customers who are predominantly middle-aged and elderly who purchase our products for both recreational and medical use,” said Schafer.

Schafer outlined several difficulties for customers who must endure an uncomfortable and potentially risky pick-up routine, including contact with payment machines.

According to the co-founder current measures are in line with COVID-19 regulations but are still not enough to ensure the safety of his customers.

“With our recommended adjustments to the current regulations designed for a pre-pandemic world, we would be able to continue to provide much-needed products to our at-risk customers safely. It would ensure a contactless experience for those who can’t visit the store for curbside pick-up and keep our staff safe,” he said.

The recommendations would help independent cannabis retailers keep their doors open and encourage the sale of regulated products while strengthening the survival of essential services.

“We believe these measures will strengthen B.C.’s overall response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the legal cannabis industry in this province,” said ACCRES special advisor Jaclynn Pehota in a letter to Minister Farnworth.

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