The province has announced the locations of nine Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation (NSLC ) outlets that will sell cannabis beginning in July.
The stores are located in Amherst, Dartmouth, Halifax, Lower Sackville, New Glasgow, Sydney River, Truro and Yarmouth. Exact locations are listed below.
Among the outlets is the former NSLC store on Clyde Street in downtown Halifax, which will re-open and exclusively sell cannabis.
According to the province, a request for proposals will be issued on Tuesday for construction services to make alterations to the stores ahead of the change. Future announcements are expected once the province finalizes plans on its cannabis retail model, which includes how stores will be configured.
The province says the NSLC will comply with federal requirements on how cannabis is sold and advertised. As well, staff will be trained to help customers “make informed, responsible choices.”
“Our main priority in preparing for the legalization of cannabis has been, and will continue to be, the health and safety of Nova Scotians,” said Attorney General and Minister of Justice Mark Furey, in a statement.
“Selling through NSLC stores allows us to leverage their experience and expertise in selling these products responsibly in a safe environment.”
Customers will also be able to buy cannabis from the NSLC online and receive the products through home delivery. Those details will also be released later.
Nova Scotians will also be allowed to grow up to four plants per household.
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The province’s plan leaves out two significant regions altogether – the South Shore and Annapolis Valley.
Furey said while he realizes there are “gaps in the map,” the liquor corporation will offer online sales with home delivery and the public will also be able to grow up to four plants per household.
“I think the model of delivery and the numbers of stores is one factor in the availability,” said Furey.
“We believe the alternate options of purchase are reasonable and will afford those Nova Scotians who choose to consume an opportunity to access product.”
By contrast, neighbouring New Brunswick plans to open 20 stand-alone stores in 15 communities, while Ontario has plans for 40 stores in 14 municipalities.
Furey was asked by reporters whether people in underserviced areas would simply go to the black market rather than drive long distances to buy their weed.
The minister said there are still a lot of “market unknowns” when it comes to who will consume the legalized product.
“There’s no switch that we are going to flip and transition to the legal recreational market,” he said.
“This is going to take time. I would be naive to think that we are going to eliminate the black market.”
He said cost was also a factor in selecting the stores, which will have to renovate their spaces.
Furey didn’t rule out more retail stores in the future, saying the province would do an analysis after the first year to determine sales and market demand.
Karla MacFarlane, the Interim leader of the Opposition Progressive Conservatives, questioned why certain areas of the province are being left out.
She said it appears the government is opting for cost considerations over health and safety.
“Obviously this is a great indication that we are going to see a fostering of the black market continue.”
In a news release, NDP justice critic Claudia Chender also raised black market concerns.
“The Liberal government’s approach to cannabis regulation continues to raise more questions than provide answers,” Chender said.
The nine cannabis retail locations announced by the Nova Scotia government on Tuesday:
- Amherst – 126 South Albion St.
- Dartmouth – 650 Portland St.
- Halifax – 5540 Clyde St.
- Halifax – 3601 Joseph Howe Dr.
- Lower Sackville – 745 Sackville Dr.
- New Glasgow – 610 East River Rd.
- Sydney River – 95 Keltic Dr.
- Truro – 6 Court St.
- Yarmouth – 104a Starrs Rd.
— With files from the Canadian Press