As legalization approaches in Canada, the complete picture of what this might look like is starting to emerge. More provinces have come out and detailed their plans with the most recent member of this group being Saskatchewan.

It was long speculated that Saskatchewan would choose a private model to distribute cannabis, and that’s exactly what has transpired. The government of Saskatchewan announced on the 8th of January that cannabis would be sold through private companies after it is legalized federally.

According to the minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA), Gene Makowsky, the move was made under a tough deadline, as the federal government is looking to legalize cannabis by summer 2018. He said, “The federal government has established very aggressive timelines for the legalization of cannabis. Our government is being diligent to ensure the sale and regulation of cannabis in Saskatchewan strikes a balance between public safety and access for consumers.”

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Under the new rules, SLGA will issue about 60 retail permits to private stores located in roughly 40 municipalities and First Nations across the province. Municipalities will have the option of opting out of having a cannabis store if they should choose.

Saskatoon will be given seven licenses, while Regina will receive six. Smaller cities such as Prince Albert, Moose Jaw and Lloydminster will receive two.

As with private liquor stores, SLGA will regulate wholesaling and retailing. Stores will be limited to selling cannabis and cannabis accessories. They will also have to track and report inventory, and will only be able to buy from regulated wholesalers.

Eventually, a lottery will be held to select stores that will qualify for a permit. So things are coming together. But there remains much on a legislative front that lawmakers will have to decide, such as minimum legal age for consumption.

Spectators have commented that it’s quite odd that Saskatchewan would reveal it’s model without first having a minimum age selected but alas, everything is happening at its own pace.

But if the way they handle alcohol can be any indication of how they will handle this issue, it will probably by 19 years old.

But just like in other parts of the country the government of Saskatchewan has its primary goals that must travel alongside legalization. First and foremost, the establishment of this new market is being created to combat the proliferation of the cannabis black market. Additionally, keeping cannabis out of the hands of children and youth is a tremendous priority. Further, protecting public and personal health and safety is a huge priority. Finally, safety on roads, workplaces, and public spaces is critical to the government’s rollouts.

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So nothing unusual there, but Saskatchewan is lagging behind a bit when it comes to the rollout of their plans. After all, the legalization date is getting closer and closer and the provinces have to do all the work.

As it stands, the province of Saskatchewan has earmarked 40 communities that are eligible for a cannabis retail outlet. All retail outlets must be standalone, selling only cannabis, cannabis accessories and ancillary items. They must be an enclosed business with a separate entrance with separate tills for cannabis sales. Currently, they are conducting a two-phase selection process and will involve screening for demonstrated financial capacity and the ability to track and report inventory movement through the supply chain. Phase 2 will be a random selection (lottery) of qualified applicants for each opportunity. Proponents cannot be selected for more than one retail permit in each community.

The government of Saskatchewan continues to work on other details regarding the impending legalization of cannabis. The retail selection process for cannabis permits is expected to be announced in the coming weeks, with the application process beginning later this spring.

As the provinces continue to roll out their plans, we are getting a pretty mixed bag as far as how they are choosing to retail cannabis. Saskatchewan is joining other provinces like Alberta, who have chosen to retail cannabis with a private model.

Industry spectators are going to keep their eyes on Saskatchewan in regards to where they finally decide to locate their retail storefronts. Considering they were one of the provinces that was asking for more time this is huge progress. But there remains some work to be done.

Categories: InfoPolitics