It appears the Battlefords will be one of just a handful of locations in Saskatchewan with cannabis storefronts ready to roll come Oct. 17.
Two of the three operators who won retail licenses in the area anticipate they will be ready to serve customers when recreational marijuana becomes legal.
Earlier in the week, Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority spokesperson David Morris said only 10 to 12 per cent of the 51 locations could be ready Wednesday. The SLGA said many retailers are still undergoing the permit process, including ensuring shops have appropriate security and pass inventory regulations.
In Battleford, president of Jimmy’s Cannabis Shop, previously Prairie Sky Cannabis Inc., John Thomas told battlefordsNOW he anticipates a Wednesday opening in the town. Thomas said the store passed inspection and checked off all the necessary prerequisites Friday, but did note his biggest concern remained on the supply side.
“We have our letter that allowed us to order from producers. We got that Wednesday and we are optimistic we will have supply,” he said. “It has been challenging but interesting, fun and generally good.”
Thomas was unsure what to expect for crowds on opening day but said they are preparing for a large influx of customers.
Across the river in North Battleford, Envirosafe Chemicals Canada new Curativa Cannabis division, in a press release Saturday morning, announced it passed inspection Friday and was awarded a temporary permit to purchase cannabis and will have product on its shelves in time for legalization. The release said the company has “plenty of inventory” at a distribution warehouse in Saskatoon to meet supply and demand.
President and CEO James Davey said the company is “honoured to be part of the historical marijuana movement in Canada, and proud to bring cannabis retail business and opportunity to North Battleford.”
The store plans on having special operating hours Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Regular hours will run Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
In addition to the retail model, the company has applied to Health Canada and is under review to produce and manufacture cannabis.
But the second storefront permittee, Synergy Five Investments LP, told battlefordsNOW it is taking a “conscious decision to pause” on its 5 Buds Cannabis outlet in North Battleford. The company also won permits in Warman and Yorkton.
Retail general manager Corey Tyacke said the company believes, in order to be a good neighbour in North Battleford, they want to take time to observe what is going on in the community. Tyacke said he plans to visit the city soon and meet with residents, the RCMP and school boards.
"We do really respect the fact we have a very strong social responsibility in each of the communities we go into,” he said. “We at 5 Buds and Synergy Five take it very seriously and want to guarantee all the communities we are going into can trust us to be as responsible as possible with the launch of the product.”
Tyacke said 5 Buds had not encountered large supply issues but did admit everyone is under the gun. He said talks have been ongoing with producers and wholesalers to ensure long-term supply needs can be met and to negate any hiccups upon opening. He spoke to the steep learning curve involved in getting to this point and how the company has hired security consultants to ensure both customers and staff are safe.
He said upon receiving correspondence with the hired design company, the project will be put to tender, with a tentative opening date set for late December.
Synergy Five Investments partnership represents Athabasca Basin Development, Des Nedhe Development, Peter Ballantyne Group of Companies and Prince Albert First Nations Business Development.
Tyacke said the company wants to do as much business as it can with companies in the Battlefords and stressed how large portions of 5 Buds profits will be reinvested into Indigenous communities.
-- With files from The Canadian Press
On Twitter: @JournoMarr
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