Saskatchewan has finally unveiled plans for distribution and sale of marijuana, and it will take a different approach than some of the other provinces.
The Saskatchewan government announced early in the week it would be handing control over recreational cannabis distribution to private retail stores. In provinces such as Ontario and Quebec, recreational marijuana will be sold through government-controlled stores.
The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority will issue approximately 60 cannabis retail permits to private operators in as many as 40 Saskatchewan municipalities and First Nation communities.
“The federal government has established very aggressive timelines for the legalization of cannabis,” Minister responsible for SLGA Gene Makowsky said. “Our government is being diligent to ensure the sale and regulation of cannabis in Saskatchewan strikes a balance between public safety and access for consumers. It’s also important to our government that the 40 municipalities and First Nations selected for retail locations have the opportunity to decide whether they want cannabis retail stores in their community.”
Municipalities and First Nations with at least 2,500 residents will be able to apply for retail permits, and communities will also be able to opt-out of having the sale of cannabis in their community. The final number of retail permits will depend on the number of community leaders that decide to opt out.
The Saskatchewan government has issued a list of eligible municipalities and First Nation communities which include Maple Creek. Discussions have already sparked in town regarding possible store-front opportunities should council vote and approve the sale of marijuana.
Mayor Barry Rudd is adamant that he would not like to see marijuana sold in town. In addition, the mayor believes having a storefront for the sale of marijuana may pose threats of breaks and enters. However, he says they must all look at the benefits of having it sold in town.
“One of the positives of it is that we are going to get a tax cut out of it,” Rudd said. “How much of a cut we don’t know right now for sure. We have to wait for a word from SUMA to see what will happen and we need to make a decision based on what’s good for the community.”
The Mayor says there is still conversation to be had as to how the town would deal with the sale of marijuana and that public consultation is something they are going to look at doing.
Cannabis retailers will be required to establish a stand-alone storefront operation, with the option to also operate an online store. Stores will be limited to selling cannabis, cannabis accessories and ancillary items.
Stores must also have the ability to track and report cannabis inventory to help ensure consumers only have access to safe, legal product from regulated wholesalers. The government will also assess the effectiveness of the initial allocations and may introduce additional opportunities 12-18 months after legalization.
Saskatchewan will also be contacting the eligible municipalities and First Nation communities in the coming weeks.
NEWS PHOTO COURTESY THE CBC
The government of Saskatchewan announced the municipalities and First Nation communities that would be available for the sale of Marijuana which include Maple Creek. Note Maple Creek is listed twice on the list as a typo.