BC Liquor and Cannabis Branch Updates Online Sale and Delivery of Alcohol Policy

June 7, 2019 | Danielle Bush, Eugenia (Evie) Bouras, Erin Elias, Ellen Kim

On May 24, 2019, the British Columbia Liquor Control and Cannabis Regulation Branch (the “BC Liquor Branch”) updated its policies to clarify who will be held liable for non-compliance with the Liquor Control and Licensing Act (the “Act”) during the provision of delivery services to consumers who order liquor online.

The BC Liquor Branch permits operators of Licensed Retail Stores, Wine Stores and Manufacturers with Onsite Stores (as defined in the Act and collectively, “Licensees”) to sell and deliver liquor online using their employees or third-party service providers. Previously, the policy was silent on who will be held accountable for ensuring anyone delivering alcohol is complying with the Act (including abiding by the requirement that a customer provide two pieces of identification for age verification at the time of delivery). Under the updated policy, it is the Licensee’s responsibility to ensure that liquor is delivered to customers in accordance with the existing terms and conditions for liquor delivery regardless of whether an employee or third party is completing the delivery. This policy change does not affect businesses that provide delivery services in accordance with a liquor delivery service licence under the Act.

The policy update also expands the ability of Licensees to advertise their products online. Previously, Licensees could only advertise on third-party owned websites that served as a portal to direct customers to the Licensee’s website where sales are processed. Under the updated policy, Licensees can now also advertise on websites that have a space considered equivalent to a Licensee’s own website, provided it’s in accordance with the requirements set out in the policy (for example, displaying the Licensee’s licence number and store address prominently on the page).

The full text of the policy update is available here. If you have questions on how these policy changes will impact your business, contact Danielle Bush, Evie Bouras or Erin Elias.

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