As October 17 – the date when recreational cannabis can be sold legally in Canada – approaches, retailers across the country are trying to get into the best position to take advantage of what is likely to be a huge new market. And the rules are still a moving target.
In Ontario, the new Progressive Conservative government of Doug Ford has decided that the sale of recreational cannabis will be privatized, canceling the previous Liberal government’s plan to control the sale through a government owned retailer, the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS). The OCS will instead wholesale cannabis to private retailers and also control online sales. All sales will be online until April 1, 2019, when private brick and mortar retailers will become operational.
Meanwhile drugstores and in-store pharmacies across Canada are pressing government to have the recreational cannabis market opened up, even though some regulatory bodies are opposed to the idea of selling recreational cannabis in a pharmaceutical setting.
Organizations such as the Neighbourhood Pharmacy Association of Canada, which represents drugstore retailers including Loblaw and Walmart Canada, says pharmacies are the best place to sell cannabis because of their expertise with controlled substances and their experience familiarizing customers with their safe use.
On the other hand, the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities doesn’t believe recreational cannabis should be sold in pharmacies. Neither do some provincial pharmacy regulators.
In Calgary, eleven Calgary Co-op locations, including a gas station, recently received approval to sell cannabis, and the addresses of seven Real Canadian Superstores also appeared on the approvals list. All of the Superstore permits were issued to people associated with Toronto and Kelowna based
Hiku Brands and Tokyo Smoke, which is owned by Hiku Brands.
Four notable malls in Calgary will be the sites for cannabis dispensaries: Chinook Centre, Southcentre Mall, Deerfoot City Mall and Midnapore Mall. A still unbuilt retail location in the new Legacy community in SE Calgary has also received an approval for a cannabis store.