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Edmonton cannabis retailer removes window coverings amid safety concerns

Click to play video 'Some Edmonton cannabis retailers remove privacy covers from windows' Some Edmonton cannabis retailers remove privacy covers from windows
WATCH ABOVE: Some Edmonton cannabis retailers are removing privacy covers from their windows. Lisa MacGregor explains how the move relates to safety. – Mar 2, 2020

An Edmonton-based cannabis retailer has removed the window coverings from a number of its stores amid safety concerns.

On Monday, Fire and Flower removed the window coverings from three of its Edmonton locations: Rice Howard Way, Merchants Row and Westmount.

The company said the decision to take down the coverings came after an armed robbery at one of its Edmonton stores three weeks ago. The company’s vice president of government and stakeholder relations said the robbery took place at the end of the night, and because of the window coverings, staff couldn’t see it coming.

“The thing that was really unfortunate in that circumstance is they took their time, because in normal security protocol you want to have the capability of eyes in, eyes out,” Nathan Mison said.

“With window coverings, that’s not the case and that is a circumstance that can’t occur. We have to make sure that our staff are safe and our customers are safe.”

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Mison said the company consulted with the Alberta government and Health Canada before taking down the covering. Under the federal Cannabis Act, cannabis and cannabis accessories cannot be displayed where they can be seen by youth.

“As long as product and labels are not being able to be seen by youth, window coverings can come down,” Mison said.

He also hopes the move will help remove some of the stigmas that remain when it comes to cannabis consumption.

“I think it’ll be brighter, I think it’ll be more inviting and I think it’ll create a safer environment. When you look at other retail in comparison — alcohol does not have window coverings, stores that sell cigarettes do not have window coverings on them — I think it’s time cannabis gets treated the same way as other retailers.”

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Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee said he hasn’t spoken with the retailer directly, but added that safety is a high priority.

“From a police perspective, what we want to do is obviously ensure the safety of their employees and I’m assuming that maybe at some point we’ll have a discussion with them but I haven’t had a chance to have a look at exactly what’s going on,” McFee said.

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Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis said in a statement that as the cannabis industry continues to evolve, it is committed to working with retailers to find solutions to emerging challenges.

“Above all, we are committed to working towards solutions to enhance retail security and the safety of retail staff and consumers,” the AGLC said.

Fire and Flower has 49 retail locations in four provinces and one territory across Canada. Mison said it will be taking a store-by-store approach to removing window coverings at its other locations.