A Lot of Applicants for Legal Weed Shops in Moose Jaw

Robert Thomas

There may have been some resistance to their introduction, a senator with family in the City might be battling the demon weed in the Senate, but when it comes to the numbers of businesses who want one of the two licensed retailers available in Moose Jaw, the numbers are high.

In figures released by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA), 107 applicants applied for the right to receive one of the two licenses. Province-wide, 1502 applications were received for the 51 cannabis retail licenses available.

Retailer applicants could be from outside Moose Jaw or the province. None of the applicants’ names, each of whom put down a $1,000 non-refundable deposit, were released.

All applicants must now go through a vetting process. The vetting process will include a good character (criminal record/association) check, a financing and operational ability check of not only them but their shareholders and other backers, as well. One of the things vetting will attempt to do is eliminate criminals or organized crime groups from taking over the licensed retail, as well as wholesale distributorship of cannabis.

Saskatchewan based retailer applicants will be given preference over out of province applicants. The Province would not release how many applicants are from out of province.

All applicants successfully passing the vetting process will then be part of a lottery, from where the two Moose Jaw retailers will be drawn. Once those selections have been made SLGA will announce the license recipients.

Saskatchewan has chosen a private system of retail sales and wholesale distributorship with SLGA regulating the industry.

The retail licenses will be valid for three years. Licenses will be re-issued as long as the retailer complies with the regulations.

The Province has also stated additional licenses may be available after an initial period.
It needs to be noted that those now operating illicit dispensaries will not be receiving permits and morph into licensed and legal entities. The Province will not be allowing a repeat to alcohol prohibition.

When alcohol prohibition was rescinded, many of the bootleggers or manufacturers of illicit booze moved on to control the legal market. Families like the Bronfmans took advantage of prohibition in Canada and later the United States to amass fortunes, and ultimately found Seagrams Distilleries. The cannabis retail licensing regulations and legislation will specifically attempt to prevent a repeat in cannabis.

Federal and provincial legislation will target the illicit market, especially sales, or providing those under 19 access to cannabis once the federal government legalizes cannabis. Initially set for legalization July 1st by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the final date for legalization has not been determined due to study and debate in the Senate.

As part of the legalization effort, the Province previously stated fines of $100,000 will be assessed against unlicensed (illegal) retailers or dispensaries. A number of dispensaries in Regina have been raided and shutdown under present Criminal Code provisions.

The one smaller and low key Moose Jaw dispensary continues to operate. They declined an interview request.

Also, as part of the April 20th or 4/20 announcement, the Province also claimed applications were now open for cannabis wholesalers. Unlike for retailers, there will be no limit on the number of wholesale opportunities.

Wholesalers will be able to supply the 51 retailers but are not allowed to sell directly to the general public. Retailers must buy their supplies from the approved wholesalers.
There is no time limit for wholesale applicants.

“Our government is committed to ensuring the legalization of cannabis is focused on protecting the public,” Gene Makowsky, Minister Responsible for SLGA said in a news release.

“Having SLGA permitted wholesalers and federally-licensed producers will help ensure the supply of cannabis in our province is safe,” Makowsky said in the release.