‘I think it was the right move’: More stores able to sell cannabis
June 17, 2019

The legal cannabis market continues to grow in Grande Prairie after Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) recently issued retail cannabis licences to Canna Cabana and Peaceleaf.

On May 30, AGLC lifted its temporary moratorium on retail cannabis licensing in Alberta due to a steady increase in AGLC’s cannabis supply. Beforehand, Lucky Leaf Cannabis Retailers had been the only local retail cannabis store to have its application approved.

“I think it was the right move,” said Nick Kuzyk with High Tide, the parent company of Canna Cabana. “Allowing the private sector to nominate for inventory purchases on a weekly basis and have that increase in supply be spread out throughout more locations in Alberta will be better for consumers and better to put a dent in the black market.”

Prior to being a Canna Cabana, the location had been a Smoker’s Corner for roughly a decade that sold tobacco and cannabis accessories. After legalization, the business evolved in order to take advantage of new cannabis market.

But the moratorium prevented this from happening for half a year.

“Being able to be open and sell some accessories while the moratorium was in place definitely allowed us to withstand the headwinds of the moratorium,” Kuzyk said. “We were able to keep people employed and continue to make a contribution towards fixed costs and utilities and the like. But it will be much better having the ability to sell cannabis now that the moratorium has been lifted.”

Cannabis first became legal across Canada on Oct. 17, 2018. A month later, a national cannabis shortage prompted AGLC to announce it would temporarily stop accepting new applications and issuing more retail licences.

“Now that the moratorium is lifted, AGLC will continue to monitor the supply to ensure that retailers continue to receive adequate inventory,” said AGLC spokesperson Heather Holmen.

AGLC will issue five retail cannabis licences per week on a “first-in, first-out basis” with retail location not being a deciding factor. AGLC currently has contracts with 26 federally licensed producers and is in conversations with others as they become licensed.

“Should the stability of inventory take a downturn, AGLC will evaluate reinstating the moratorium,” Holmen added. “Although the product shipments we have received over the past three months have increased steadily, licensed producers cannot guarantee this will continue or be sustainable.”

Common criticisms levied against Alberta’s retail cannabis market include pricing, variety, distribution and day-to-day operations.

While Kuzyk agreed that the current system had flaws, he wanted to give governments the chance to get feedback from industry and customers in order to improve regulations.

“Broadly speaking and taking a long-term view, this is still very early,” he said. “We’re still in the first year of legalization of cannabis for adult use—recreational cannabis, that is. Getting it right off the bat is, I think, a tall order that nobody thinks is reasonable.”

Written by: Peter Shokeir
Source: Daily Herald Tribune