The number of cannabis stores in Alberta surged past the 250 mark this week following the provincial government’s decision to lift a moratorium on new retail licences.

Canada legalized recreational cannabis sales on Oct. 17, 2018, and Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis predicted the province would have 250 stores within a year. It ordered enough marijuana to supply that many outlets, but it only received a fifth of the cannabis it requested.

Once the number of cannabis stores reached 100, it had to impose a ban on issuing new retail licences due to this chronic supply shortage. However, by May 2019 it has secured contracts with 26 licensed producers across Canada and it felt confident enough to lift the moratorium.

Since then it has been extremely busy issuing new retail licences and several companies are building up strong footprints in the province.

YSS Corp. (TSXV: YSS), a portfolio company of Canopy Rivers Inc. (TSXV: RIV), has today received its 12th retail license for the province. It plans to have all 12 stores up and running before the end of Q3 2019. The latest addition to its empire is in northwest Edmonton, while it has a number of stores in Calgary.

Edmonton-based Fire & Flower (TSX: FAF) announced today that it has also secured two new retail licences for its home city. “We have heard from the South Edmonton community that they are eagerly anticipating the Fire & Flower experience and we are looking forward to welcoming them into our stores,” said chief executive Trevor Fencott.

That takes Fire & Flower’s estate to 28 stores across the country.

National Access Cannabis Corp. (TSXV: META), which bills itself as the largest cannabis retailer in Canada, has grown its empire to 35 stores after gaining an additional licence for a site in Medicine Hat, Alberta, today. It has received 10 new licences in the province since the moratorium was lifted.

Vancouver-based operator Choom (CSE: CHOO) has also gained a licence for the area, it revealed today. Calgary retail group High Tide (CSE: HITI) also issued a press release today announcing that it will make Lloydminster the location for its 12th store in Alberta. It expects to have 24 sites in operation across Canada by the end of the month.

Finally, Westleaf Inc. (TSXV: WL) has been granted a licence to open its first Prairie Records branded cannabis store in Calgary. “We believe our celebrated Prairie Records concept, with its unique experiential music tie-in, will be a winner with customers in Alberta as it has been in Saskatchewan,” said chief commercial officer Adam Coates.

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