Grande Prairie has opportunities to get into the marijuana industry. Chief Corporate Officer for Aurora Cannabis Cam Battley spoke about them at the Growing The North Conference this week.
He suggests there could be weed cafés, vape lounges and retail stores that could benefit the local economy. He adds that the Alberta government’s choice to create a free market has put it ahead of other provinces.
“They’re leaving plenty of room for small business and entrepreneurs which provinces like Quebec and Ontario are not. I think you’ll see Alberta be a leader in this space, not just through Aurora Cannabis but other companies as well and on the retail side.”
Aurora Cannabis is one of Canada’s leading medical marijuana producers. It is currently building a production facility at the Edmonton International Airport.
Battley says it will include innovative technology that the industry has not yet seen. That includes a closed pressure system which he says helps with plant growth and maintenance.
“By having a closed system it also allows us to keep out pests and contaminants and that’s really important because when it comes to cannabis production, the first commandment is: do not lose crops.”
The Alberta government released its rules for retail marijuana sales last week, some of which can be adjusted by municipalities. Those include the 100 metre buffer for stores from schools and provincial health care facilities, and the store hours of 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., which is the same as liquor stores.
Deputy mayor for the City of Grande Prairie Jackie Clayton says staff are already looking at different options. There are also plans for more public consultation.
“We will provide an opportunity for city residents to provide their feedback in regards to how this fits our municipality, so there will be an opportunity for feedback, which we feel is very valuable.”
The regulations also make it mandatory for all retail licence applicants to go through a background check. Employees will also have to get background checks and training. Some of the requirement for security include locked display cases and video surveillance.
Clayton says the feedback from staff and residents will help city council make decisions about future cannabis retail locations once it’s legalized this summer. She feels they have enough time to do so, thanks to ongoing engagement.
With files from Maddie Vice