Manitoba continues to get ready for pot legalization, even as Ottawa seems unsure when it will actually happen.
In November, the province put out a request for proposals, looking for companies to operate retail pot shops.
Friday, the government announced which four operators have been conditionally tabbed to sell recreational marijuana.
Winnipeg-based Delta 9 Cannabis, in coalition with Ontario’s Canopy Growth Corporation, are one of the groups chosen.
“We were licensed by Health Canada in 2013 for production of medical cannabis. In the lead up to legalization, we took on a growth strategy, raised $34 million in 2017, and took the company public in November,” Delta 9 CEO John Arbuthnot told 680 CJOB. “The pace of companies raising capital was accelerated to a rate that we had never seen before.”
Delta 9 has an 80,000 sq. ft. production facility in the city. It expects to hire 200 people for production and retail in the first two years pot is legal.
“I think we’ve really seen a validation of the entire cannabis space in Canada as a global leader in the legalization of recreational use cannabis,” Arbuthnot said.
“When we look at our sector, the major cost centres are power, labour, and warehousing space. We’re very blessed here in Manitoba to have affordable components in those cost centres.”
Canopy Growth operates a number of facilities across the country under Canada’s medical cannabis framework.
Three other groups have been conditionally approved to sell recreational pot in Manitoba:
- National Access Cannabis, which already runs medical marijuana care centres across the country, hopes to take its medical clinic model to meet the needs of Manitoba’s retail market;
- Tokyo Smoke, which currently operates high-end shops in Toronto and Calgary;
- 10552763 Canada Corporation, which has yet to figure out a name, but includes Fisher River Cree Nation, Chippewas of the Thames of Ontario, and US-based retailer Native Roots Dispensary
How many locations each will be allowed to operate and where the stores will open still needs to be ironed out.
Trade Minister Blaine Pedersen has indicated the province is confident it will have retail locations ready for business when pot is legalized.
“Our primary concern from the start has been public safety, and this will continue to be paramount,” Pedersen said.
“We’ve said from the outset that this process has been rushed and it’s more important to get it right than meet an arbitrary deadline. However, we’ve worked quickly and diligently, and we’re confident that we’re on track to have retail locations begin operating in Manitoba as early as July 2.”
While Manitoba still strives to be ready by that date, it’s looking very unlikely that a Canada Day target for national legalization is possible, based on recent developments in Ottawa.
The federal government has pushed back its timeline because of procedural problems in the Commons and Senate, acknowledging that legal recreational marijuana likely won’t be for sale until the end of summer or early fall.