With only a single legal cannabis shop in Grande Prairie opened before the licence freeze of November 2018, the status of those who hoped to join in on the newly legalized substance sales remains in limbo. PeaceLeaf VP Roberto Lopez says it’s hard to tell where their location stands with Alberta Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis.
“One of the frustrations we have with the AGLC is their lack of transparency. They don’t really tell us anything and they’ve only sent us two emails since freezing licensing.”
Lopez is one of several infrastructure-ready shops in Grande Prairie which opened ready to sell accessories but had to shutter the doors while still waiting on the green light to stock up on Cannabis.
Despite being out of pocket with no income in the project since October he remains optimistic about the chances of opening the doors soon. However, that time is slowly counting down. Lopez adds that the optimism, and more importantly, the money, may only last another 12 months.
“It’s tough to say. We aren’t open right now, but it’s been very hard to handle turning customers away. Probably around a year, I would say. But, obviously, we would be hurting.”
That is a thought that is shared by others in similar situations.
“I said, ‘is this going to be a year? Six months?'” says Rae-Lynne Robichaud, owner of Haze. “they don’t know. They don’t know anything. They found out a day before the news release happened.”
Robichaud tells MyGrandePrairieNow.com she is into the endeavour by more than $100,000. She fears if she pulls the plug, any remaining hope of at least recouping any of that money will be up in smoke.
“Luckily I have other businesses in town so I can make things work. But, people who are relying on this as their only source of income will be a struggle.”
Robichaud was one of 17 applications in progress for retail shops in Grande Prairie in November when the freeze went into effect. Another of those 17 was CannaCulture, who did have to swallow the loss.
“CannaCulture still advocates for safe and legal access of Cannabis on behalf of the People of the Peace Region when the opportunities arise, but we will no longer be seeking to sell physical Cannabis in the area for the foreseeable future,” says Carter Dombrova, Spokesperson and VP.
Even with a deep backlog of applications, Canadians purchased $150 million worth of Cannabis between October 2018 and February 2019. $33 million of that was sold in Alberta.