Businesses and organizations across Canada and around the world are cutting back on services to help minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Perhaps you’re doing your part, too, by isolating yourself at home. Maybe you’ve even ordered a little something from your favourite online cannabis retailer to help pass the time, calm your nerves, or to stock up on your prescription.
If so, don’t slip into your pyjamas just yet.
Recently, Canada Post announced that it would no longer be delivering packages requiring person-to-person interaction at peoples’ homes, forcing some Canadians, including those waiting for the arrival of certain cannabis products—and potentially those with compromised immune systems—to make a trip to the post office to retrieve their shipment.
“To help minimize points of close contact in our communities, we will no longer be requesting signatures for any deliveries to the door,” explained Canada Post in a public statement on March 15. “This will eliminate the need for scanners and stylus pens to be passed back and forth during the delivery process of these items.”
Certain items that don’t require signatures or identification can be left at the doorstep in what Canada Post calls a “safe drop.”
But any items that need a signature or age verification, like all cannabis products, will automatically go to a nearby post office to be picked up in person and you’ll get a notice card at your door, even if you’re at home when they arrive.
What do the new COVID-19 measures mean for cannabis consumers expecting shipments?
Normally, legal cannabis ordered online and shipped via Canada Post is brought directly to the purchaser’s door and handed over after proof of identity and proof of age processes involving identification and a signature are completed.
Now, customers ordering online from digital dispensaries like the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) or BC Cannabis Store will receive a notice card at their door with the address of the post office location and instructions on how to collect their shipment. They’ll then be required to visit the post office with proper ID and sign for the package there, or send someone in their place if they’re practicing strict social isolation.
Some sellers like the OCS are also notifying customers about this disruption via email. Place an order on OCS.ca and you’ll receive an email almost immediately updating you on the new delivery practices.
Canada Post declined an interview, pointing us to the public statement linked above.
“I am so disappointed to hear that they will not comment—especially because I have received public statements from Purolator and from customers of FedEx who have confirmed their processes,” says Ashleigh Brown, Founder and CEO at SheCann Cannabis Inc, a digital network for Canadian women to share medical cannabis information.
Asking people to go into public and visit a post office may seem counterintuitive, especially for those at high risk for contracting COVID-19, including those with mobility issues or those who don’t have access to a vehicle.
“I am worried for immunosuppressed patients who are at high risk for exposure, as well as those of us who have conditions and disabilities that make leaving our homes difficult, even outside of a pandemic,” says Brown. “Many patients do not drive, and cannot visit a postal outlet or depot.”
Are there any shipping services that will still deliver to your door?
Not all delivery companies have implemented the same rules as Canada Post.
On Twitter, Puralator confirmed that packages requiring adult signatures, which include cannabis of any kind, cannot be dropped off and left alone at someone’s front door. That said, they no longer require signatures. Instead, when the delivery person shows up at your home with your box of bud, you can show a piece of government-issued photo ID and agree to accept the package verbally.
FedEx is the same—no signatures will be required for now, and mail can be dropped at the door.
Medical Cannabis by Shoppers, the Shoppers Drug Mart-owned entity, also confirmed that, for now, a signature is no longer required for its medical cannabis orders and it will come to your door or mailbox.
“Thousands of Canadians rely upon these carriers to deliver our medicine to us, and we need stakeholders to consider the tremendous impact that these changes may have on our quality of life and wellbeing,” says Brown. “During these uncertain times, we want to follow our governments’ direction, and stay home—with our medicine in good supply.