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Appeal board overturns cannabis retail permit denial

One of the cannabis shops denied a development permit will be able to open in the City of Grande Prairie after all. The Subdivision and Development Appeal Board has overturned the decision, after Haze Inc. appealed it.

Haze was looking to set up shop in a location between the southside Freson Bros. and the Crown & Anchor Pub. Owner Rae-Lynne Robichaud says the business hired lawyers to show that the use of marijuana in the enclosed smoke shack behind the bar and close to the nearby condos is a consumption issue, not a retail one.

“Where people consume it, that’s based on the city’s bylaws for consumption, not based on a retail store, so if they don’t want people smoking it behind the Crown & Anchor or out in public like that they need to look at their bylaw for that.”

Another concern raised was around people who have been drinking alcohol not having to go far to then buy weed. Robichaud maintains the AGLC has strict rules about selling cannabis to anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and says all staff will have to take a mandatory certification program called SELL SAFE.

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“It goes through ways to notice if people are intoxicated, and if anybody’s intoxicated they’re not allowed to buy from us. We’re going to have to watch them and if they’ve been at the bar and we can tell they’ve been drinking, we’re just going to send them away.”

Robichaud notes that other development permits have been issued for cannabis retail locations next to licensed drinking establishments and liquor stores.

Because of the setback, Haze plans to start construction next week with a hopeful opening date of November 1st. One other retail location was also turned down by the city, but it didn’t appeal the decision.

Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis announced Thursday it has issued 17 retailers interim cannabis licences so they can prepare to open on the date of legalization October 17th. None of them are in northern Alberta, but the AGLC says it expects more to be operational after that.

Twenty applications are in the works for the City of Grande Prairie. In the meantime, people can still buy online through the AGLC.

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