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Edmonton pot shops rev up preparations with 2 months to go before cannabis legalization

WATCH ABOVE: Two months from today, Canadians will be legally able to buy and use recreational pot and as Vinesh Pratap explains, retailers are getting ready.

There are only two months left to go before cannabis is legalized in Canada, and work is fast and furious for businesses in Edmonton looking to open shop.

Calvin Chan, a planner with the City of Edmonton, said the city received 181 development permit applications for its lottery system; nearly 40 have been approved, six have been refused, two have been appealed to the subdivision and development appeal board. A handful have also been withdrawn.

READ MORE: How to buy weed in Canada when it’s legalized

Now that the lottery process is done, Chan said the city will revert back to its first-come, first-serve structure, which will start Aug. 28 at 8 a.m.

At this point, it isn’t clear how many retail stores will open in Edmonton on the day cannabis is legalized.

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“It all depends how quickly applicants move in terms of getting their other permits and licences,” Chan said.

“Not only do you need a development permit, if you’re doing construction work or renovations, you’re going to need a building permit and business licence. We haven’t actually gotten too many so far. I would only expect a handful to be able to open by Oct. 17.”

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As legalization approaches, corporations and independent businesses looking to get into the cannabis retail sector are preparing for the countdown.

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Nathan Mison, vice-president of government and stakeholder relations for Fire and Flower, said the company submitted 15 locations to the City of Edmonton for permit approval.

Mison said the process has been tricky.

“Municipal, provincial, federal all working together is an interesting process. We are excited about coming towards an end. On Oct. 17, we’re looking to have a number of stores open across Alberta and Saskatchewan,” he said.

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Mison said the biggest challenge for the company at this point is the lack of certainty around the city’s process.

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“We’re still working through the municipal process. We do have currently eight development permits that we haven’t received back from the municipality. We’re building out those locations as we speak, so we’re going to be ready to move forward,” he said.

“We are working to make sure we will have stores open on Oct. 18 and making sure we can invite the community in and see who we are, how we’re going to be representing a whole new sector in Canada for cannabis.”

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Roseanne Dampier opened Alternative Greens roughly two months ago; the store only sells hemp products currently but plans to sell legal weed starting Oct. 17.

“Things look promising right now,” she said. “It was a little scary a few months ago.”

Dampier, who said she had received her municipal development permit, said she is still undertaking the AGLC application process.

Dampier also said she has not had a chance to look at the inventory, saying the AGLC has been tight-lipped with her and has released little information about the marijuana products soon to be legally available.

According to the AGLC, applicants that meet all the licencing criteria will be issued an interim licence that will allow them to purchase and store cannabis until Oct. 17, when they will be able to sell the products.

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On Oct. 17, those interim licence holders will be given a retail licence to sell the cannabis, the AGLC said. Stores will have access to products from 13 licensed producers.

As of this past Monday, the AGLC had received 150 applications for cannabis retail in Edmonton.