AGLC opens applications for cannabis shops

Mayor Cathy Heron said she hasn’t personally heard from any cannabis retailers interested in St. Albert, but she’s positive that will change.

As of Thursday afternoon, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission had received almost 200 applications from retailers wanting to open pot shops across Alberta.

The AGLC headquarters in St. Albert had received 98 applications from across the province. The Calgary office had received 59 applications, Grande Prairie had received three applications and Red Deer had only received one.

Thirty-one applications had been received by mail.

Michelle Hynes-Dawson, spokesperson for the AGLC, couldn’t comment whether any of the applications were from retailers interested in St. Albert. She said the regulating organization wouldn’t know any location details until they start processing the applications.

Since applications opened Tuesday morning, Hynes-Dawson said the majority of applications have been sent to the headquarters in St. Albert. They won’t reveal details on who is applying for cannabis retail stores until licenses are approved, which could take two to four months based on the application’s complexity.

Hynes-Dawson said she’s not surprised at how many applications have been submitted.

“It’s been about what we’ve anticipated,” she said. “It’s been very manageable.”

The province is anticipating 250 recreational cannabis stores to open in the first year of legalization.

Michelle Hynes-Dawson said the biggest misunderstanding among applicants is how many licenses the AGLC is issuing. No cap exists, although one single person or entity can only hold up to 15 per cent of licenses in the province.

Now the AGLC is tasked with looking through the applications, which include background checks and ownership structures.

Heron said the biggest challenge the city will face when it comes to cannabis legalization is where to allow cannabis to be used in the city.

“We’re going to have to find where (cannabis) fits,” she said. Council is currently figuring out whether to treat cannabis like tobacco or like liquor.

She said the city  would also be determining where in the city cannabis stores will be permitted to set up shop.

The city economic development department wasn’t available to comment on whether they’ve spoken with potential retailers, but in previous reporting an official said there were retailers both inside and outside the community interested in St. Albert.

While the province has set the guidelines on where recreational cannabis can be consumed and the parameters around where cannabis stores can be opened, the city has to make its own regulations to make legalization work in St. Albert.

City council will begin discussing rules around cannabis retailers in April, with a public hearing to amend the Land Use Bylaw expected sometime in June.

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