Eleven months after recreational pot was legalized, city officials have approved 209 cannabis outlets with no end in sight to their growing number.
That’s approaching half the number of liquor stores in Calgary, which numbered about 450 in early 2018.
Neither the province nor city have set limits on the number of retail outlets eligible for approval, which means there could ultimately be many more than those 209 stores in Calgary.
“We never intended to restrict or put a limitation on cannabis stores in Calgary, just the separation distances between stores,” said Brandy MacInnis, a senior planning and policy strategist for the city.
City regulators continue to see a steady trickle of three to five new applications for cannabis outlets each month and are currently reviewing five of them.
MacInnis said another 105 proposals have been rejected, the majority due to being too close to other such stores or amenities such as schools or daycares.
Regulators also have discretion to reject an application due to public opposition, she added.
Cannabis plants grow in a greenhouse at the CannTrust Holding Inc. Niagara Perpetual Harvest facility in Pelham, Ontario.
Coun. Druh Farrell, whose ward contains a cluster of the stores in the Kensington area, said she’s heard very little opposition to cannabis outlets.
“I don’t think that’s really happening,” said Farrell.
But in months past, she said, there have been some complaints that the subdivision and development appeal board, which issues decisions on challenges to city-approved locations, has overruled proximity rules in some cases.
But, ultimately, said Farrell, the market, not governments, will decide how many cannabis stores set up shop and remain in business.
“I can’t imagine all of them will be successful . . . I don’t think there’s been a commensurate increase in cannabis use,” she said.
“I still support the proximity rules and, despite them, we still have an ample number of locations operating.”
Of the 209 city-approved stores, the final arbiter, Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis has approved 63 stores in Calgary, though not all of those are operating.
People lined up at FOUR20 Premium Market on MacLeod Trail in Calgary on October 19, 2018.
A total of 284 cannabis stores have been granted AGLC licenses throughout the province, with more on the way from an agency that’s received 1,248 applications.
Of those, 457 are pending AGLC approval.
The process is ultimately based on public demand for the recently legalized product, said AGLC spokeswoman Chara Goodings.
“That’s why it’s private, that’ll dictate if there’s a surplus of stores,” she said.
But some in the industry say the AGLC’s monopoly on legal online sales in the province is unfair.
The AGLC said it’s up to them to ensure parts of Alberta not served by the private sector have access to legal cannabis.
A flurry of AGLC approvals during the summer seemed to affect local sales, said Karen Barry, owner of Beltline Cannabis Calgary at 806 12th Ave. S.W.
But she said it’s ultimately up to retailers to adapt to changes in supply and demand.
“You tackle the market with longer hours or discounts, it’s where the rubber hits the road,” she said.
“You have to live in the environment you’re given.”
Staying in business is a challenge, added Barry, while adding she’s not aware of any retailers bowing out in Calgary.
“We’re cautiously optimistic,” said Barry.
And she’s not convinced the looming legalization of cannabis edibles will bring a significant boost to business.
Edible cannabis will be legal in Canada by Oct. 17, 2019.
A major barrier to a more thriving legal pot industry is the number of Canadians still purchasing from black market sellers, which Statistics Canada pegged at 38 per cent earlier this year.
According to Statistics Canada, 20 per cent of Albertans aged 15 or over consumed cannabis in the past three months, one of the highest rates in the country.
The national average is 16 per cent.
A 2017 survey conducted partly by the University of Alberta found 65 per cent of Albertans reported having consumed at least one alcoholic drink in the past 30 days.
Authored By: The Growth Op Article category: Marijuana Business News Regional Marijuana News: Alberta
READ MORE: https://420intel.ca/articles/2019/09/18/more-200-cannabis-stores-approved-calgary-city-says-markets-limit