Nova Scotia fixes online workaround of age requirement for cannabis sales

By The Canadian Press
October 18, 2018 - 10:30am

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia's government-owned cannabis retailer said it has successfully taken measures to prevent people from skirting the access code required as part of age verification for online sales.

The problem popped up hours after the use of cannabis became legal, when someone posted a 77-second online video offering instructions on how to get around using the required access cards.

Beverley Ware, spokeswoman for the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, said late Thursday afternoon the Crown entity believes it has solved the issue.

"It involved moving data stored in a browser to a server," she said in an email.

Earlier, Ware said the change the corporation made "means that you won't be able to bypass the access code anymore."

She said Nova Scotia is one of two provinces that has a two-step age verification process that involves inputting an access code and then confirming the customer is at least 19 years old.

In order to purchase cannabis products online in Nova Scotia, adults have to pick up an access code in person at the province's liquor and cannabis stores, after showing proof of age. The access code is free and there is no personal information attached to it.

Ware said there is an additional step to ensure cannabis is not being purchased by minors.

"No matter how you place your order, when it's shipped to the door the person who receives it still has to provide photo ID proving that they live at that address and proving that they are 19 years old," Ware said.

She said deliveries must be made person-to-person or the product will be shipped back to the corporation.

When asked about whether it was possible to know if an adult was getting around the security measures for a minor, Ware raised the idea of social responsibility.

"We would hope that Nova Scotians wouldn't provide liquor to minors and cigarettes to those under age. There is a certain amount of responsibility here that if you are an adult purchasing cannabis we would hope that you don't provide it to a minor, and it's illegal to provide it to a minor."

But Nova Scotia's Opposition Progressive Conservatives said the video was proof that the province's Liberal government had "failed to keep the drug out of children's hands."

"They have proven that in addition to not being able to trust them with our private information, we can't trust them to protect our children," interim Tory Leader Karla MacFarlane said in a news release.

Meanwhile, the liquor corporation said it conducted 12,810 transactions province-wide during the first day of legalization Wednesday, resulting in $660,000 in total sales — with $47,000 of that coming from online sales.

Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press

From politics to pot: Legislators now in the cannabis business