Saskatchewan cannabis businesses seeing increased demand during coronavirus pandemic

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Saskatchewan cannabis businesses seeing increased demand during coronavirus pandemic
WATCH: One dispensary owner said business has jumped between 20 to 30 per cent this month – Apr 20, 2020

Even though this year’s 4-20 won’t be the celebration cannabis businesses were looking for, some are seeing more dollars flow through the door.

Prince Albert’s Prairie Cannabis said early signs show sales are up between 20 to 30 per cent.

“I think it’s just people purchasing a little bit more product. You know, say you go to the grocery store, you might buy a few extra groceries because you’re not going out as regularly as you would normally do,” said CEO Jim Southam.

“It’s not a toilet paper situation or anything like that,” he joked, noting he isn’t concerned about bare shelves.

Dispensaries aren’t the only cannabis business seeing more demand.

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A Saskatoon-based nursery said it has been able to capture more clients as pandemic measures enter a second month.

Mother Labs has been able to maintain all of its 33 staff and has added upwards of five clients.

“Especially here in April. March was a little bit different. I think there was just some hesitation in the industry. Once we kind of got through March and the demand is obviously there, we saw a lot of new clients come aboard,” operations director Jon Davis told Global News.

Click to play video: 'Canadian cannabis producer Canopy Growth shuts two B.C. facilities'
Canadian cannabis producer Canopy Growth shuts two B.C. facilities

Not all businesses have decided to stay open, however.

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Tweed’s parent company, Canopy Growth Corporation, closed all of its retail locations on March 17.

In an e-mailed statement, it’s chief executive officer said, “we are taking this opportunity to create focus and realign priorities to help drive efficiencies in Canopy Growth’s global operations.”

“Canopy Growth has been an innovator and leader in this industry from the beginning, and we plan to continue in this position well into the future by making these necessary changes today,” said David Klein.

This isn’t the April 20 that Southam had planned.

He said businesses didn’t really have enough time to organize events last year and this year’s plans had to be ripped up.

“We actually had an event planned here for [April 19]. We had a few bands booked to play a facility here in Prince Albert and obviously that had to be cancelled,” Southam said.
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He’s also the president of the Weed Pool Cannabis Cooperative and is looking forward to more cannabis retailers opening in smaller centres.

Southam is hoping entrepreneurs consider joining the co-operative rather than becoming a franchisee for a corporation.

At the start of the month, Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA) started taking applications for licences in communities smaller than 2,500 people and will open up licensing in larger communities in September.

In October, the minister for SLGA said the phased-in approach allowed existing retailers the ability to continue to operate and grow their customer base while facilitating timely opportunities for store openings in smaller communities.

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