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B.C.'s Rifflandia festival to enable on-site cannabis ordering, pick-up

New system marks evolution in how B.C. government regulates access to legal cannabis
Rifflandia, which first took place in 2008, is one of Western Canada's longest running music and arts festivals

Organizers at Victoria’s Rifflandia Music Festival are set to allow attendees to order cannabis and pick up their orders on-site.

While that may not sound like a controversial development, it may be the first time that this has happened in B.C. 

Rifflandia CEO Nick Blasko told BIV that he thinks there may have been a festival in the Kootenays that did this, but otherwise his event would be breaking new ground. 

Attendees will be able to buy cannabis online through Rifflandia’s partner, Vernon-based Blended Buds. Delivery company SendDirect would then handle product delivery to consumers at the festival’s sites, he said. Rifflandia will not generate any revenue from cannabis sales. It is making the cannabis accessible as a service to its attendees, Blasko said.

Rifflandia is taking place at Victoria’s Electric Avenue, along Pembroke Street, Sept. 7 through 9. It then moves to Victoria’s Royal Athletic Park, on Caledonia Avenue, Sept. 15 through 17. Artists set to perform include Iggy Pop, Mavis Staples, Diplo and Herbie Hancock.

Attendees who want to order cannabis at the festival would have to go to an age-gated area where there would be QR codes for them to use smartphones to scan. Blasko said that attendees would then see a limited menu of products with low Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the active ingredient in cannabis.

His festival will have smoking areas where cannabis smokers can toke.

“This is about easing into this idea that people who want to consume cannabis at a festival’s grounds can do it,” he said.

"They don't have to worry about smuggling it in or doing it in a clandestine way. They can have a legal framework, a regulated product, and be able to buy it from a reputable retailer and have it delivered and consume it to their heart's content.”

His festival will have a liquor licence to enables attendees to buy, carry and consume alcoholic drinks around the festival site. 

B.C. cannabis regulations have loosened

B.C. government restrictions on ordering and delivering cannabis have loosened since the Canadian government legalized adult use in October 2018. 

Initially, the only legal cannabis e-commerce orders in B.C. were those conducted through the provincial government’s BC Cannabis Stores website. 

In August 2000, the B.C. government started to allow licensed private cannabis retailers to sell products online, but it still required their customers to pick up their purchases at bricks-and-mortar stores.

The provincial government then ended its 34-month monopoly on delivering legal cannabis in July 2021.

Earlier this year, British Columbian cannabis shoppers gained another legal platform to help them get their weed, as food-delivery giant Uber Eats added cannabis to its app’s options

Uber Eats drivers do not deliver cannabis products. The arrangement is largely an advertising and accessibility-based initiative, where Uber Eats customers are able to click a tab on the app to scroll through eligible cannabis retailers, and then connect to a cannabis marketplace site known as Leafly.

Private legal cannabis retailers opt to be accessible on Leafly. 

Customers can then click through to cannabis retailers on Leafly, place orders with the individual retailers and have the retailers' staff deliver the products. 

This is the same system that Uber Eats uses in Ontario.