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Pot shop lottery concerns pop up

The City of Grande Prairie’s lottery for cannabis retail licences is being challenged by some of the businesses that didn’t make the top 15. Three applicants came before city council Monday night to ask them to consider either upping the first year cap or removing it altogether.

“The results of the lottery aren’t helping any small business people be successful in opening a cannabis retail store at this time,” says Urbn Leaf managing partner Craig Ruether. “We’re just hoping that they would reconsider that.”

On June 18th, council voted to limit the number of cannabis retail business licences to 15 for the first year, with a maximum of one per corporate entity. Applications were accepted starting the next day with a deadline of July 6th. A lottery was then done on the 9th, ranking all applicants in case any of the first 15 can’t move forward.

Representatives of Urbn Leaf (22nd), Spirit Leaf (20th) and Canna Culture (23rd) all told councillors Monday about the time and money they spent securing leases and applying to the AGLC before they knew a limit of 15 would be placed. That’s around how many had been approved by the province when the city went forward with its bylaws, but in the end there were a total of 27 eligible businesses.

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Urbn Leaf partner Vickram Minhas believes there is “no rhyme or reason” to the cap, and that council didn’t have all the necessary information before deciding on one.

“They made an application process that didn’t even require an AGLC application to be in the process. I feel it was short-sighted and I feel there might have been a better way to look at it had they had more information available to them at that time.”

Minhas also feels there weren’t enough opportunities after a cap was initially proposed to give feedback. Urbn Leaf is now looking at opening up shop in another community in the Peace country and will consider trying again in the city if the cap is lifted after one year.

“It’s sad because we are local,” Minhas adds. “We were born and raised, trying to start a local business, trying to keep local money in Grande Prairie and support the community.”

The concerns will be brought up at the next Infrastructure & Protective Services committee meeting on August 7th.

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