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Multiple cannabis retailers eyeing Grande Prairie

With a projected market worth $850 million dollars countless businesses are preparing to enter the retail cannabis market across Canada. In order to become an approved retailer a two-step application process must be followed in Alberta. First the applicant must submit to the Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission then to the municipality they plan to build in for a development permit.

Fire and Flower Cannabis is trying to become a major player saying their goal is to own 20 per cent of every market they enter. The Alberta based company has applied to the AGLC for two locations in Grande Prairie with plans for a total of 37 stores around the province.

Part of the AGLC’s process is a 21 day period that allows for public engagement on proposed locations. The applicants information and proposed location are posted online. VP of Brand and Marketing Chris Bolivar says many of those concerns were addressed by the government through public consultation already.

“Part of us even formulating our process is we’ve taken steps to engage with communities. We’ve taken steps to engage with Indigenous peoples as well. And that’s also been a real hallmark of how we’ve determined which locations we’ve looked in to.”

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He says they haven’t had any issues or concerns raised during that waiting period so far. The approval period end April 18 for their proposed Grande Prairie locations. One of those is #10 in the Riocan Centre and the other proposed location is at B-6829 Kateri Drive. A different numbered company has also applied to open a store called Haze at 107, 9715 105 Street. Their application’s approval period ends April 26.

Each municipality is able to bring in their own bylaws and guidelines around where locations can be built. Bolivar says he feels their commitment to being a “responsible retailer” will allow them to work with municipalities and their guidelines.

“As this consumer product is being introduced into Canada I think that we have a real responsibility to make sure that we’re introducing it in an appropriate manner. So that means that in our selection of locations we’ve ensured that they’re away from schools and that they’re away from health care facilities.”

Previously Director of Community Living Koji Miyaji said the city had no solid data to show the level of investors interest in GP.

“Whether it’s going to be an influx or whether it’s going to be a trickle we’re not sure. But we anticipate there will be some interest generated. Therefore we just want to be prepared for it.”

Miyaji also outlined an anticipated timeline that could see the city begin to accept development permit applications May 23, 2018.

Fire and Flower plans to expand across B.C. and Saskatchewan as well. Bloivar says they have decided to build their head office in Edmonton because the provincial regulations in Alberta have been the clearest.

On Monday the province took further steps to update the Gaming and Liquor act. They increased fines and naming restrictions to further protect public health, keep cannabis out of the hands of children and limit the illegal market. Name restrictions will prevent recreational marijuana as being positioned as “medicinal”.

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