The Province of British Columbia is easing a significant restriction on cannabis sales. On Friday, its Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch released a policy directive allowing customers to reserve recreational cannabis through their dispensary's website or by phone.

Neither form of contact permits the actual sale of the product. Customers must still pick up and pay for their goods in the store. Licensed sellers may continue to sell marijuana accessories and gift cards for their wares online.

Previously, the Canadian agency's official policy did not allow any form of online commerce between dispensaries and consumers of recreational pot; it made no mention of phone commerce, although this seems to have been implicit in the policy.

Generic marijuana dispensary sign.

Image source: Getty Images.

In its new policy directive, the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch did not explicitly state that it was enacting the new rules to help contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. But many governments and companies around the world are taking steps to encourage, and even mandate, social distancing aimed at keeping the coronavirus at bay.

British Columbia is a long-established hotbed of the marijuana industry. With the legalization of recreational cannabis by Canada in 2018, several marijuana companies headquartered themselves in the province, and most major players in the sector have had operations there at one point.

One major example is Tilray (NASDAQ:TLRY), which is based in Nanaimo on Victoria Island. Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC) did have a strong presence in British Columbia before it shut down a pair of greenhouses in the province.

Boosted by strong demand for cannabis in the wake of the pandemic, both Tilray and Canopy Growth saw their shares rise on Monday while the overall stock market faltered. Tilray's shares advanced by over 5%; Canopy Growth's were nearly 6% higher.