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Grande Prairie seeing increase in pot shops

While several new recreational cannabis stores are opening in Grande Prairie, the city’s planning and development department says there hasn’t been a spike in license approvals. Manager Joe Johnson says since the initial lottery, many of the locations have been stalled by other layers of bureaucracy, including the AGLC, as they try to get their businesses up and off the ground.

“It would have been months and months, or even over a year ago that we approved a lot of these that are finally opening their doors,” he explains. “There has been the odd one here and there that we have dealt with and continues to be the odd inquiry but it’s not like from our perspective we have noticed a spike in approvals in the last month or so.”

When the initial wave of applications came in 2018, the city capped the license pool at 15. Nearly two years later, there are at least 14 shops open or opening.

When it comes to several stores in a small geographical area, like two in the vicinity of Revolution Place, Johnson says municipal bylaws include some restrictions. No stores can open within 350 metres of schools, hospitals, addiction treatment centres, or other cannabis stores.

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“That’s kind of a determining factor on location, but aside from that, they are available I think in all commercial land use districts,” he adds.

Johnson says, at the current time, there is no longer a limit on permits. But, he believes the market will correct itself if too many, or too few, stores operate in the region.

“I don’t think that regulation will cap the [number] of stores; I think what will happen is due to market demand or what have you [is] they’ll find out the right number on their own.”

To date, the city has approved 19 application permits to open a recreational pot shop in Grande Prairie.

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