Pubdate: Sat, 17 Feb 2018
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2018 Postmedia Network
Author: Bill Kaufmann
Page: A3


Alberta could be the site of 250 cannabis stores in the first year of
legalization, with retailers able to offer discount prices on bud and
marijuana oil, provincial officials said Friday.

No one business or person will be able to own more than 15 per cent of
the locations, or a maximum of 37 stores, the government said, and the
outlets must be located no closer than 100 metres from schools and
health-care facilities.

"This is a brand new market and we want to ensure everyone can
participate, from the very small to the very large entities," said
Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley, adding there's no shortage
of prospective retailers.

"There has been an enormous amount of interest."

In Oregon, which has a similar population to Alberta, there are 502
retail licences.

Last month, a city official said it alone has received interest from
at least 200 potential retailers.

But regulations that include a $3,000 deposit and annual licensing and
application fees totalling $1,100 "might weed out a few," said Alberta
Gaming and Liquor Commission vice-president Dave Barry.

Like liquor stores, the cannabis outlets will be permitted to be open
between 10 a.m. and 2 a.m.

A prospective merchants who's been selling medicinal marijuana in B.C.
for years said the province is moving cautiously and

"I think it's fair - they need the infrastructure to be in place, and
they only have one chance to get it right," said Fred Pels, owner of
The Green Room.

"We don't want a free-for-all ... people have to be looking at the
reality of the task facing the province, which is an industry coming
at it like a freight train."

Pels said his company is hoping to set up 10 to 15 stores throughout
Alberta and has applications ready for when the province begins
accepting them on March 6.

Officials who are setting up the fledgling cannabis retail sector say
they 're confident the province will have sufficient supply from
federally licensed producers.

Those with convictions for cannabis possession will be allowed to work
in the sector, though people with a trafficking past and serious
crimes, such as those involving violence, will not.

Those aged 18 and over will be able to purchase a maximum of 30 grams
at a time.

Distribution will be handled by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor
Commission, which performs that duty for liquor retailers, and it will
also operate online cannabis sales.

The commission has yet to determine wholesale prices, said

"We're cognizant of the fact we want to reduce the illicit market and
price must meet that objective," he said.

Private retailers, however, will have flexibility in setting their
prices, opening the door for discounts, but the commission will ensure
there's a limit to how low prices can go.

The Green Room's Pels said that shouldn't be an issue in an industry
that's not in the business of losing money.

"The retail street price has been the same since the 1970s - $8 to $10
a gram - and legalization isn't going to change that," he said.

Pels said legalized retail cannabis should snuff out the streetlevel
black market in pot.

"If they bring craft growers in on Day 1, there's no need for a black
market," he said, adding the involvement of smaller producers will
help ensure sufficient supply.

Ottawa has indicated it likely won't meet its initial goal of
implementing cannabis legalization on July 1. Instead, it could occur
later in the summer - a timetable that doesn't worry the province,
said Ganley.

She noted edibles will remain illegal, though she expects Ottawa to
change that in the coming year.

And she said the government isn't expecting a revenue windfall from
storefront and online sales.

"Our modelling suggests the cost to the province will be larger than
the revenues to the province," said Ganley.

The City of Calgary is satisfied with the province's rules,
particularly in how they give regulatory power to municipalities on
issues like buffer size, said Matt Zabloski, the city official heading
cannabis retail planning.

"We're pleased with the flexibility it affords municipalities and for
the fairly robust regime of background checks for store staff that are
fairly stringent," said Zabloski.
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