Three cannabis stores in Medicine Hat will open day one

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Alberta - BY COLLIN GAL­LANT— South­ern Al­berta News­pa­pers

Three lo­cally-owned cannabis re­tail­ers are among the first in Al­berta to re­ceive in­terim busi­ness li­cences by provin­cial reg­u­la­tors.

The lo­ca­tions in the Hat are among 17 an­nounced Oct. 4 by the Al­berta Gam­ing and Liquor Com­mis­sion as in­terim li­cence hold­ers. That means they can or­der sup­ply and be open for busi­ness on the morn­ing of Oct. 17 when fed­eral pro­hi­bi­tion on mar­i­juana will end.

It also means that for the three stores among at least 15 ap­pli­ca­tions from the Gas City, the fin­ish line is in sight for set­ting up in the highly com­pet­i­tive in­dus­try.

Pa­trick Wal­lace owns three liquor stores in Medicine Hat, in­clud­ing one and a con­ve­nience store in the same com­plex as Waldo’s 420 Store, at 946 16th St. in the city’s South­west Light In­dus­trial area.

“I have four AGLC li­cences, three for liquor and one for lot­tery, and I’ve never been put through the ringer like this,” said Wal­lace last Oct. 4 in terms of pa­per­work and back­ground checks.

“It was ex­treme, and very time con­sum­ing to get one.” Beyond sev­eral thou­sand dollars in ap­pli­ca­tion fees, po­ten­tial store own­ers also waited for lo­cal zon­ing ap­proval to ren­o­vate stand-alone lo­ca­tions (a provin­cial re­quire­ment), get those per­mit­ted, then ac­tu­ally move ahead with con­struc­tion. That’s all with­out the cer­tainty that a provin­cial li­cence would be granted.

“We’re just putting base­boards on the walls then we’re done,” said Wal­lace.

Three lo­ca­tions in Medicine Hat have al­ready pre­ordered stock, which has not been dis­persed by the AGLC.

Ed­mon­ton and its out­ly­ing com­mu­ni­ties are the site of 11 of the 17 li­cences — the small town of Devon is the site of the first ever li­cence holder, Small Town Buds.

Only two are lo­cated in­side Cal­gary city lim­its, and Medicine Hat is the only other city in south­ern Al­berta on the ini­tial list.

In­cluded in those li­cences in West­side Weed, which is the first busi­ness ven­ture for lo­cal man Keith Ahlm and his wife.

“I just hope I have enough (stock) for ev­ery­one,” said Ahlm, who said a fi­nal in­spec­tion by AGLC of­fi­cials is due, but he’s ready to un­lock the doors

“We’ve re­ally been in the dark about ev­ery­one else’s ap­pli­ca­tions, but we’re ready to go,” he said, adding that it’s grat­i­fy­ing to be among the first li­cence hold­ers in the province. “Things have hap­pened very quickly in the he last few weeks.”

He said the re­cep­tion in the com­mu­nity to open­ing up has been good, and he’s heard very lit­tle crit­i­cism. “Ev­ery­one has been re­ally pos­i­tive,” said Ahlm. Wal­lace as well said he hasn’t re­ceived any neg­a­tive feed­back about of­fer­ing a long-banned nar­cotic for le­gal sale.

“It’s been bizarre that way,” he said, adding that po­ten­tial cus­tomers are al­ready knock­ing on the door to in­quire about sales or open­ing day.

The third Medicine Hat lo­ca­tion is “The Green Ex­change” lo­cated at 328 S. Rail­way St. Lo­cal busi­ness in­ter­ests are con­nected to those ap­pli­ca­tions, but prin­ci­pals were un­reach­able on Thurs­day.

The three were among an ini­tial eight cannabis re­tail lo­ca­tion devel­op­ment per­mit ap­pli­ca­tions that were ap­proved by the city’s plan­ning com­mis­sion in Au­gust.

An­other four were ap­proved by the plan­ning com­mis­sion ear­lier this month.

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