A Calgary-based cannabis retailer’s mission to advise greenhorn operators in Ontario reflects Alberta’s pre-eminence in the pot business, says a spokesman for the firm.
High Tide Inc., which sells cannabis in four Canna Cabana stores in Alberta, has agreed to assist two Ontario retailers that have been selected in that province’s lottery to join the first batch of 25 marijuana outlets to open there April 1.
“We do have a head start from a retail perspective,” said High Tide’s chief strategy officer Nicholas Kuzyk, referring to both his company and the Alberta industry.
“It’s something to be proud of in Alberta, having 75 licensed cannabis stores this quickly — it leads the world.”
It’s bewildering, he said, that the governing NDP hasn’t cited its rollout of legal cannabis as a talking point leading up to the impending provincial election.
“I’m surprised the NDP hasn’t owned this as an achievement,” said Kuzyk.
High Tide will offer assistance on regulatory issues along with commercial operations in areas such as hiring, training and inventory to the two firms, one of which plans to locate its outlet in Hamilton, said Kuzyk.
In return, the company will receive a minority interest and financial compensation.
“They’re excited, but almost all of (the Ontario retailers) don’t know what’s required,” said Kuzyk.
“Surely, they were looking coast-to-coast (for expertise) and homed in on Alberta.”
High Tide is also intent on bringing its Canna Cabana stores to Canada’s most populous province and holds 20 conditionally leased locations throughout Ontario.
The firm hopes to see some movement on those sites once Ontario’s lottery-based selection expires in December, said Kuyzk.
“The things we’ve honed over the last decade make for a natural presence in Ontario,” he said.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Alberta-based cannabis producer Sundial Growers said it has inked an agreement with the government-operated online Ontario Cannabis Store to supply that province with product.
“While the immediate focus for Sundial remains on ensuring uninterrupted supply to our existing customers, the Ontario market will be critical for Sundial’s long-term strategy of establishing a considerable distribution network in Canada,” said Sundial chief commercial officer Andrew Sordeur.
The company said it’s been increasing its production capacity at its flagship site in Olds, north of Calgary, to serve the national market.
Sundial began supplying the Alberta market in December as one of the province’s 15 cannabis sources.
Alberta has 75 licensed cannabis outlets, by far the most in the country with nearly 40 per cent of Canada’s brick-and-mortar numbers, with 24 of those in Calgary.
That status and the province’s preparations for pot legalization has Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis being sought for its expertise in areas such as staff training, say commission officials.