In the years leading up to legalization, as other provinces allowed unlicensed dispensaries to proliferate (in sometimes impressive numbers), Quebec did not follow their lead. Instead, police in Quebec City and Montreal were quick to crack down on medical dispensaries, often within a matter of days after they opened.
Accordingly, Quebec’s stock of illicit cannabis has largely been sold through delivery services—and unlike physical dispensaries, cannabis delivery services are much harder to root out and evict.
So the Société Québécoise du Cannabis (SQDC), Quebec’s Crown monopoly cannabis retailer, is hoping to challenge illicit delivery with a delivery network of its own.
Beginning soon, the SQDC will launch a pilot project in Montreal to test a delivery service that will deliver SQDC products within 24 hours, rather than relying on Canada Post to deliver products within several days.
Though alcohol delivery in Quebec may take several days, Université de Montréal professor Jean-Sébastien Fallu stressed that alcohol is widely available everywhere in Quebec. By contrast, legal adult-use cannabis is limited to a small number of stores across the province and the SQDC’s website.
“If the delivery takes two or three days, that will never accomplish competition with the illicit market,” Fallu told Ici-Radio Canada.
The SQDC has released a call for tenders to find out whether such service can be delivered, and if so, at what cost. The pilot project is expected to run from six to nine months.
Because suppliers will be required to pick up SQDC orders from the agency’s shipping centre, the delivery project will be limited to the island of Montreal, but may be quickly extended to South Shore and Laval suburbs if it’s successful.
La Presse noted the call for tender sought services capable of delivering all packages by 10:00 pm on the day they were ordered, though the document also stresses delivery suppliers may be called upon in some areas to arrange delivery within one hour of the receipt of an order.
Even Lionel Carmant, minister of health and social services, said he supports the initiative, though he stressed delivery services must abide by his government’s Law 2, which raises the age for cannabis consumption from 18 to 21 on Jan. 1, 2020.