Pubdate: Tue, 09 Jan 2018
Source: StarPhoenix, The (CN SN)
Copyright: 2018 The StarPhoenix
Author: D.C. Fraser
Page: A1


City on deck for seven outlets, with retailers selected in a

Saskatchewan is planning to allow private retailers to sell cannabis
products, once they are legalized this summer by the federal government.

Regina will be able to have six retailers, while Saskatoon can have
seven. About 60 stores, which must be stand-alone shops and will also
be able to sell products online, will be located in 40 communities
throughout the province.

The Saskatchewan Party government is allowing communities with a
population of at least 2,500 to be eligible for a cannabis retailer.

A recent government study found 45 per cent of citizens want to see
Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SGLA) run the stores;
however, that won't be the case.

SLGA Minister Gene Makowsky was unable to say what the provincial
government estimates the cannabis market to be worth in Saskatchewan,
but some studies have pegged the market as being worth around $23
billion countrywide.

Makowsky described it as an "ill-defined market right now" and said
choosing to allow private retailers, rather then the province, to sell
it "de-risks" the taxpayer and prevents "increasing the footprint of

Who gets to be those retailers will be decided in a lottery of
applicants by the province, according to Makowsky.

Eligibility for the lottery will be based on financial capacity, and
ability to monitor the product's supply chain and character (such as
whether or not the applicant has a criminal record and who they
associate with).

Right now, there are about 20 stores selling marijuana in either
Regina or Saskatoon, and at least a handful more in other cities.

A partner in one of Saskatchewan's best-known medical cannabis
dispensaries is applauding the provincial government's decision to
leave pot sales in private hands.

Mikael Francis said Best Buds Society, which has outlets in
Saskatchewan and Manitoba, will apply for sales permits because
stand-alone dispensaries with experience and expertise are the best
option for recreational sales.

"We believe that this isn't something that should be taken lightly,"
Francis said Monday. "A consultative approach, even in a recreational
situation, would be important … the educational part of it is the most
important part."

Makowsky said those dispensaries, currently operating outside of the
law given that marijuana has not yet been legalized, would be given no
special treatment during the lottery process. Asked why Regina is
getting six stores when the current market shows the demand is higher
than that, Makowsky said "the idea is to go slow and sort of roll it
out in a reasonable way.

"There could be more in the future as we analyze and assess how things
are going," he added, saying the province is trying to balance
community concern and public safety with market access.

The lottery process is being used, according to Makowsky, because of
the "time restraints we're under" would make a request for proposal
process "very tight."

Saskatchewan has long stated it hasn't had enough time to deal with
the federal government's impending legalization of marijuana, despite
the federal Liberals campaigning on the issue in the 2014 election.

After they won a majority government, they stated their intent to
legalize cannabis before 2019, before tabling legislation allowing for
just that early in 2017.

Saskatchewan is the last province to introduce its legal framework for
cannabis sales, and fuller details are still unknown, including the
consumption age limit.
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