VICTORIA - The British Columbia government says new rules for private cannabis retailers will allow pot to be reserved and paid for online, but customers still have to pick up their orders in person.

The province says the regulations now allow private cannabis stores to accept payments made on a website, app or by telephone.

Previous licence conditions allowed customers to reserve cannabis products online, but required them to visit a store to complete the payment and obtain their purchases.

The province says it changed its policies because of a request from private retailers, which felt online orders would help limit customer time in stores during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To draw more business away from the illegal market, the province says it has also amended regulations to permit retailers with multiple stores to accept prepaid purchase or gift at any of that licensee's locations or through its online system.

The province says it is also considering proposals from private retailers for delivery of online cannabis, but says any potential relaxation of the existing delivery prohibition would need to maintain strict standards preventing youth access to cannabis.

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