Three cannabis stores in Medicine Hat will open day one
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.