As a response to the federal governments “very aggressive timelines for the legalization of cannabis”, this morning, Saskatchewan’s Liquor and Gaming Authority (the “SLGA”) announced its cannabis wholesaling and retailing plans.
Wholesaling and retailing will be conducted by the private sector and regulated by the SLGA. Private retailers will operate standalone storefronts and may operate online sales as well. The stores will only be permitted to sell cannabis, cannabis accessories, and ancillary items. Stores must have the capability to track and report inventory. An evaluation of this ability will ultimately form part of the government’s two-phase process for selecting successful retail store applicants.
The SLGA has indicated that it “will issue approximately 60 cannabis retail permits to private operators in as many as 40 Saskatchewan municipalities and First Nation communities.” Any eligible municipalities or First Nations will have the option of opting out of having a retail cannabis store in their community. The actual number of retail permits will be determined once the number of “opt outs” have been received.
The initial permits will be given to private retailers who will operate in municipalities and First Nations that have populations of at least 2,500 people. Selection of retail operators will be done by an independent third party who will undergo a “two-phase process”:
The first phase will be initial screening for financial capacity and the ability for proponents to track and report inventory. Phase two will be a random selection (lottery) of the qualified applicants. Successful proponents will be required to meet ‘good character’ criteria as part of the permitting process.
It is unclear if there will be any stipulations on which federally licensed producers (“LPs”) may supply the successful proponents. It also is unclear whether or not the successful proponents will communicate with LPs directly, or if products will be distributed through the SLGA. Saskatchewan has not entered into any exclusive supply agreements as of yet with any LPs.
Details with respect to the application process have not yet been released, but the SLGA has said that they will be finalized over the coming weeks in addition to an announcement about permit licensing fees. According to the press release, we can expect to hear the Saskatchewan government’s decision about the minimum age for consumption and purchase later this spring.
Photograph © Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority, 2018