Cannabis con­cerns

Loblaw to sell mar­i­juana in Grand Falls-Wind­sor and Gan­der

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Le­gal cannabis re­tail is com­ing to cen­tral, but not to Lewis­porte or Twill­ingate.

Lewis­porte Mayor Betty Clarke re­lated that her coun­cil dis­cussed it and were open to help­ing busi­ness own­ers ob­tain the re­quired per­mits to ap­ply to be­come cannabis re­tail­ers. “We de­cided that as long as they met all the reg­u­la­tions,” Clarke said, “we would sup­port it if it came here.”

How­ever to the best of her knowl­edge, none did. With the strict cri­te­ria the New­found­land and Labrador Liquor Corp.’s (NLC) ap­pli­ca­tion re­quired busi­ness own­ers to com­plete, Clarke as­sumed they would have had to come to the town first for the per­mits.

Clarke said she is not dis­ap­pointed that no one from her town sub­mit­ted an ap­pli­ca­tion. Lewis­porte sits be­tween the larger cen­tres of Gan­der and Grand Falls-Wind­sor, both of which had suc­cess­ful cannabis re­tailer ap­pli­ca­tions through Loblaw stores.

“We un­der­stand that not every com­mu­nity can be a sup­plier of pot,” she stated. “If no­body comes for­ward to ap­ply for a li­cence what can we do? We’re not in the busi­ness of pro­mot­ing pot.”

Rod French, chair of the Gan­der Cham­ber of Com­merce, which also rep­re­sents busi­nesses in Twill­ingate, an­other town that the NLC did not re­ceive any ap­pli­ca­tions from, says his board thinks the ten­der­ing process it­self was the is­sue.

“It was dis­ap­point­ing that smaller re­tail­ers didn’t have as much of an op­por­tu­nity to ap­ply or sub­mit,” he said. “The re­quest for pro­pos­als had cri­te­ria that made it more dif­fi­cult for smaller op­er­a­tors to be suc­cess­ful in the process.”

French said that although he is happy Gan­der Loblaw was suc­cess­ful, he is dis­ap­pointed the ap­pli­ca­tion process seemed stacked against smaller busi­nesses. “Loblaws is a mem­ber of the Cham­ber and we sup­port all our mem­bers but we wish that smaller op­er­a­tors also had the op­por­tu­nity,” he ex­plained. “We think the re­quest for pro­pos­als might have been a bit dif­fi­cult for them to com­ply with. There were ar­eas of the prov­ince that didn’t have any ap­pli­ca­tions come in, which lent sup­port to our the­ory.”

The cham­ber’s board has fur­ther con­cerns it feels have not yet been ad­e­quately ad­dressed re­gard­ing the pot leg­is­la­tion.

“We don’t feel there’s been a lot of info on reg­u­la­tion and en­force­ment,” French said. “There are still a lot of ques­tions that we as a busi­ness com­mu­nity feel need to be an­swered and I think there’s a lot of peo­ple in the gen­eral pub­lic who feel the same way. So, we’d like to see gov­ern­ment on both lev­els come for­ward with some more info around that to put some of those ques­tions at ease.”

The NLC is plan­ning to reis­sue the re­quest for pro­pos­als. French is hop­ing smaller re­tail­ers in the area will take note of the ge­o­graphic gaps the NLC was pre­pared to award li­cences in and will con­sider ap­ply­ing.

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