Quebec to sell cannabis online via SAQ, Radio-Canada sources say

Legal cannabis could be just a click away for Quebecers once Canada’s new marijuana law comes into effect, Radio-Canada has learned. The provincial government intends to table its marijuana bill Thursday.

Provincially controlled sales through liquor board to be part of new bill expected Thursday

Quebec will allow consumers to purchase marijuana online when it tables a bill this Thursday, Radio-Canada reports. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Legal cannabis could be just a click away for Quebecers once Canada's new marijuana law comes into effect, Radio-Canada has learned.

The Quebec government plans to table its own legislation to manage legal marijuana sales Thursday, Radio-Canada has confirmed, and it intends to manage online marijuana sales through the SAQ, Quebec's publicly owned liquor agency.

Neighbouring New Brunswick has yet to work out details, but provincial leaders there have told CBC News that customers might pay for the product online and then pick it up at an official retail store.

That province is also considering having trained staff deliver the product to people's homes.

Postal workers to deliver cannabis

The Quebec model would entail Canada Post delivery of the product ordered from the SAQ website, sources say.

Quebec is expected to become the third province in Canada to propose legislation to manage legal marijuana sales this week, when Public Health Minister Lucie Charlebois tables the bill. (CBC)

Before handing over the package, a postal employee would check identification to ensure the customer is of legal age and ask to see proof of the online purchase.

Canada Post already delivers alcohol ordered online through the SAQ, and it has been handling the delivery of medical marijuana since 2013.

Online sales to ensure access

The online service would ensure a legal source for customers who will not have access to a physical store.

Initially, at least, the province only intends to set up 20 SAQ stores across Quebec to sell marijuana on site, Radio-Canada has learned.

In Ontario, a subsidiary of the LCBO, that province's liquor board, will only have 40 retail stores set up to sell the drug when it becomes legal next summer. That number is expected to grow to 150 by 2020.

In a  September 2017 news conference, the Ontario government said it is capping the number of stores for now because it's not clear whether federally licensed wholesalers will be able to supply enough product for a large network.

However, Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa said the web-based delivery system will help fill in the gaps in rural areas.

"Online is available to everyone," Sousa said.

Even in provinces where the retail regime for selling legal pot isn't set by the time the law changes, consumers will likely be able to make use of online sales.

"In those provinces or territories that have yet to authorize retailers, adults would be able to purchase cannabis directly from a federally licenced producer by ordering online with secure delivery at home by mail," a government page last updated in April 2017 says.