Governments grappling with how to keep pot bought online out of the hands of underage users

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The Liberal government’s point man on pot legalization says strict safeguards will be put in place for home delivery of the drug once it is available for purchase online as planned.

“If we’re going to use a mail delivery system, we have to make sure that that works, to make sure that this is not accessible to people underage,” Bill Blair, the parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice, told CBC News.

When the federal government introduced its cannabis legalization bill last April, it said provinces and territories would oversee sale and distribution of the drug. But it opened the door to online sales from federally licensed producers “with secure home delivery through the mail or by courier.”

Alberta announced its cannabis framework two weeks ago. That province won’t allow online sales at first because of concerns the drug could be delivered to someone under the legal age limit.

“There may not be online sales or home delivery of cannabis initially, but it’s not completely off the table,” Veronica Jubinville, spokesperson for Alberta’s justice minister, wrote in an email to CBC News.

“Online retail will be considered as part of our next steps once we understand more about the market and are confident we can ensure age verification.”

But in Ontario, online sales are expected to be allowed as soon as marijuana is legalized, and precautionary procedures will be built in, according to Scott Blodgett, spokesperson for the Ontario finance ministry — including “ID checks and signatures required upon delivery.”

Canada Post already delivers

Blair said marijuana that is ordered online won’t be delivered to just anyone. He said provinces and territories can establish their own secure system, but there has been one already in place for medical marijuana since 2013.

“It’s delivered by Canada Post, and there is an age verification — an identity verification — that takes place at the point of delivery at the door,” Blair said.

Blair Marijuana 20160224

Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Justice, says Canada Post already deals with age verification for home delivery of medical marijuana. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Federal Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor said there has been no decision about which outlet should be used for home delivery.

“It’s important to consult with our officials but also with the provinces and territories to ensure we get this right,” Petitpas Taylor said.

Pettipas Taylor will meet with her provincial counterparts Thursday and Friday in Edmonton. The issue of legalized pot is on the agenda.

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Governments grappling with how to keep pot bought online out of the hands of underage users

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