Hazy days ahead for pot retailers

By Geoff Lee

February 28, 2018 3:26 PM

Ian McCoy, owner of 20 After Four, made a presentation to council last week with hopes of eventually getting a separate retail business licence to sell recreational-use cannabis on either side of our border city. GEOFF LEE LLS PHOTO

The recreational cannabis market is turning into a waiting game for potential local retailers, provincial legislators and the City of Lloydminster.
The latest delay comes from the federal government that now says it will take eight to 12 weeks to get the retail system up and running if they follow through and legalize recreational-use cannabis in July.
Meanwhile, Ian McCoy, owner of 20 After Four, a marijuana novelty products store in Lloydminster, is waiting for the city to draft bylaws and regulations for cannabis store licences.
“I guess we will wait and see what they do because they’re not sure about the licensing themselves, so until they do something with licensing, I guess it’s a waiting game,” said McCoy.
Lloydminster in turn, is waiting for Saskatchewan to release their regulations so they can draft a bylaw and policies for both sides of the Border City.
Alberta released their rules and regulations on the sale and operation of cannabis retailers on Feb. 16.
The Alberta Gaming & Liquor Commission will handle distribution and online sales of cannabis and accept retail store applications starting March 6.
McCoy shared information about his concerns to secure a cannabis retail licence in Lloydminster during a presentation to the Governance and Priorities Committee meeting on Feb. 20.
“I’m trying to get my licence,” said McCoy, who has been in business locally for 17 years.
“There’s a lot of red tape and she’s going to be a costly and a time consuming adventure for sure.”
The AGLC requires a cannabis retail outlet to be separate from existing businesses and only operate for the purpose of a cannabis store.
It became clear in the comments from councillors McCoy will have to wait awhile for the city to line up their regulatory ducks before he can hang up a business shingle.
“The city is still waiting patiently for the Government of Saskatchewan to bring their regulations forward so that we can, then do the redraft of bylaws and policies and procedures that the city will prepare,” said Lloydminster Mayor Gerald Aalbers.
“As you can appreciate, we do not want to draw and release them only for the Alberta side and then in turn, have the Government of Saskatchewan regulations indicate that we have to go back and do a redraft.”
Aalbers said it’s important for council to wait until they have both sets of documents and information from the two respective governments before moving forward with bylaw amendments that will be coming forward.
The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority has previously indicated two retail licences will be available in Lloydminster among 60 retail permits to private operators in the province.
McCoy plans to apply for a retail licence in both provinces to hedge his bets.
He said he got into the business in the first place with the legalization of medical marijuana selling related paraphernalia, and he sees business growth through the sale of recreational marijuana.
“That’s where we got into the game—the medical part of it, and now it’s recreational,” said McCoy.
“I would like to get into it or lose out basically.”
Aalbers said the number of licences to be issued by the two provinces in the city is in provincial hands.
“We do not have control over that; it is in the provincial realm—we’re waiting patiently for the government of Alberta to clarify,” he said.
Alberta has indicated there’s 250 licences that will be available to start with in the province.
“What does that mean to the city—I don’t have that answer today and I hope I have that answer in the near future,” said Aalbers.
As for the possibility McCoy could be granted the first Alberta licence in Lloydminster, Aalbers couldn’t say.
“There will be a process I understand that people have to apply for through the province, so I don’t know who will be the first retailer in Lloydminster who will be granted a licence,” he said.
“I’m sure there’ll be more than one that will be anticipating the opportunity.”
McCoy says his next step is to get working and looking for a building and licensing through the AGLC knowing it will be costly.
“I have been shopping around for sites,” he said.
“Again, you can’t get too serious about it because you don’t know where you can actually have your business located—there’s lot of uncertainty right now.”

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