Pubdate: Sat, 17 Feb 2018
Source: Winnipeg Sun (CN MB)
Copyright: 2018 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Joyanne Pursaga
Page: 3


A few groups feel they were overlooked in the competition to sell
legal pot in Manitoba, including some small business owners.

Rick Macl, owner of the Brandon shop Growers 'n Smokers, said he
partnered with another business to submit a proposal.

But he also said his eventual rejection letter was expected early on
in that process, due to conditions set by the province.

"I knew I had no chance having (less than) three stores going in
alone. I was forced to join other companies," said Macl. "I was in
desperation mode."

The province's cap on the number of successful applications to just
four, paired with a goal to ensure Manitobans widespread access to
legal pot, made it impossible for small businesses to compete, said

"I would have liked to have seen it open to the smaller guys. They've
just handed this whole business over to massive companies," he said.
"They're really actually hurting (other) people, some who have been in
this business for a couple of decades."

Macl said he fears it will become extremely difficult to succeed
selling just cannabis growing and consumption equipment, as he does

That's because he suspects those selling the actual drug will offer
similar products to create one-stop shopping.

And small operators aren't the only ones who felt left

Metis Federation

The Manitoba Metis Federation accused the province of not giving its
proposal enough consideration, which the federation hoped would create
hundreds of jobs in Metis communities.

"We're incredibly saddened and disheartened that the Metis nation was
not considered as part of this release from the province," said
Lindsay Ridgley, MMF'S communications director. "We felt that we put
forward a very strong proposal, we met the requirements as outlined by
the province. We feel this is just a continuation of their lack of
respect for the Metis nation."

But the province's trade minister stressed that there will be more
business opportunities in the marijuana market in the future, since
the province felt rushed by federal timelines to ensure the first
group of retailers had enough capacity to compete with the black market.

"What we're looking at is penetration across Manitoba to allow the
opportunities for all Manitobans to have access to legal product,"
said Growth, Enterprise and Trade Minister Blaine Pedersen. "It is a
phased-in approach and we're doing the best we can under the strict

Pedersen also stressed that the province will continue working with
Indigenous, rural and Metis communities on future opportunities to
expand the industry.

"We're not shutting anybody out ... There's lots of opportunity for
more business in Manitoba," he said.
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