Alberta Gaming Liquor & Cannabis released the list of pot shops that will be up and running with products on the shelves on Oct. 17.
Of the 17 Alberta retailers issued interim cannabis licences, six are located in Edmonton, three are in Medicine Hat and two are in Calgary. (See the full list below).
The interim licence means retailers will be able to order and have products shipped to their locations ahead of legalization.
Interim licensees that fulfill all conditions will be issued a sales licence on Oct. 17 so they are legally ready to open their doors to the public, the AGLC said in a news release Thursday afternoon.
The AGLC will continue to license retailers at a steady pace in the days and months following Oct. 17. It’s anticipated about 250 stores will be open in Alberta within the first year of legalization.
Daniel Nguyen is the owner of Numo Cannabis in north Edmonton, one of the 17 approved shops.
“I do feel very lucky that we were able to go through every hoop, meet all the requirements and are able to open on Oct. 17,” he said. “Lots of sleepless nights. We’ve been working at this for almost a year now. We applied back in early February and we’ve been doing work ever since then.
“I definitely thought there was going to be more competition, especially with the amount of applicants that went through. But through everything that stores had to go through to get set up, I’m not surprised that it’s this small of an amount. We did have a large process to go through in a short amount of time.”
Nguyen anticipates opening day will be busy, with people interested to see what the legal pot-buying experience is all about.
“I think people are going to want to try to purchase it legally, be able to get that experience. It’s going to be just like going to buy alcohol. Now, something that you couldn’t get before in a store you can go get in a store, so why not go and try it?
Nguyen said he will be working every day until Oct. 17, ensuring his store is set up and ready for customers. He has aspirations of one day expanding his business outside of Edmonton.
“We want to get it done right. We want to make sure people are able to get their product, a good quality product, as well as have a good experience while getting it,” he said.
“Twelve days and counting.”
Ryan Kaye is the vice-president of operations at 420 Premium Markets. The company’s location in the Southland Crossing Shopping Centre in Calgary is ready to go for what Kaye called a historic day.
“This is a really historic moment right here, right now in Canada for cannabis and the world is watching, so it’s really exciting,” he said.
“We expect demand to be huge. There’s a lot of excitement around this event. We think there will be many people that will be taping that receipt on their fridge and remembering that as a historic day.”
Staff members have been working day and night to prepare stores in municipalities across Alberta, with additional locations opening in the weeks and months after Oct. 17.
He said a big piece of the work being done is training staff on the product, as well as the policies and regulations in place. Consulting with surrounding community members has also been a priority.
“A lot of people are still just figuring out how they feel about this,” Kaye explained. “They’re still learning about cannabis or learning about maybe what they heard decades ago was not quite accurate. So it’s a time of change, and it’s a time of patience and understanding on our part to help people understand who we are and how we operate.”
Calgary’s mayor said Thursday the city was “as ready as we could be” for legalization, but he’s wary about the more than 100 applications that have been approved for the city.
“To be perfectly frank with you, I don’t know if Calgary will be able to maintain the number of applications that we’ve seen,” Naheed Nenshi said. “But ultimately, the market will decide and people who wish to purchase that product will determine if they’d rather do it online if they have certain retailers that they support.”
Nenshi added he expects the city will go through a phase of several months where they work to improve how the legalization of cannabis is rolled out in Calgary. However, he said all the bylaws and policies are in place and officials are prepared.
The City of Calgary’s cannabis bylaw prohibits any public use of marijuana throughout the city.
Just two stores in Calgary have been given the approval to sell legal marijuana on Oct. 17. Sarah Offin reports.
Beyond the stores, Albertans will also be able to buy cannabis online beginning on Oct. 17.
The government’s cannabis website will be the only legal outlet for people to purchase the product online. The AGLC is working with 15 licensed producers, including three from Alberta, to supply the products.