Albertans won’t just be in for a wait before public marijuana consumption sites are approved, they may also face a lengthy waiting period before legal cannabis stores are even open for business in their area.
All adults in Canada will officially be allowed to consume marijuana on a recreational basis starting Oct. 17, but the approval process for opening storefronts has been slow.
Specific rules and governing bodies in control of the impending marijuana industry can vary by province and even city, with Calgary permits handed out by the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) agency.
So far the AGLC has officially put their stamp of approval on 17 stores across the province, and hundreds more applications are currently being processed.
Acquiring a retail cannabis license isn’t simple or cheap, requiring the prospective business to fill out a 70-page application form. That form is sent in along with a non‐refundable application fee of $400 and license fee of $700, plus a deposit of $3,000.
That deposit goes towards the cost of a background check on the prospective business owner. According to a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) report, more than 480 applications were submitted to the AGLC between March 6 and May 6 of 2018.
“Each application takes anywhere from two to four months just for the background checks alone,” AGLC spokesperson Heather Holmen told the CBC. “There’s certainly going to be quite a bit more background work that’s done to ensure there’s integrity in the sector.”
There is currently no limit to the number of licenses that can be granted in Alberta, but one restriction has been put in place — no single person or entity can hold more than 15% of retail cannabis licenses in the province.
While 100 prospective Calgary stores have received approval in one form or another from city officials, very few of them will actually open when legalization hits in less than two weeks.
Fred Pels from the Green Room chain of dispensaries told TheGrowthOp.com that all three of his proposed locations for Calgary stores were recently refused by city regulators. Those refusals are currently on appeal, but the appeals won’t be considered until after legalization arrives.
Currently, only two storefronts in Calgary have actually been granted full licenses from the AGCL and will be legally prepared to open on October 17.
One of those two stores is Four20 Premium Market, which received a permit to operate at the beginning of September and will open with 25 employees.
Ryan Kaye, VP of Operations for Four20 Premium Market, had this to say about the end of marijuana prohibition arriving in just over a week:
“I’ll use the word huge, we expect a lot of excitement around this event. We think there will be many people who will be taping that receipt on their fridge and remembering that as an historic day.”