MEDICINE HAT, AB -- Medicine Hat residents will have twice as many opportunities to buy cannabis in Medicine Hat by the end of next month.
The number of cannabis stores is growing from three to six, a major relief for the business owners that have been waiting for months.
“Wonderful, never thought we’d make it. We are through the moon,” said Dylan Schmalzbauer, co-owner of Hat Cannabis.
“It feels good, it’s been a long process but we’re here now,” says Brett Horrocks, owner of Green Light Cannabis.
The AGLC's website says Hat Cannabis, The Leaf and Green Light Cannabis are the three new recipients.
Green Light is located at 102-2882 Box Springs Boulevard, Hat Cannabis at 646 South Railway, and The Leaf at 699 Kingsway Avenue SE.
On April 18, Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) sent a letter to prospective retailers saying 26 new retail cannabis licenses were being issued province wide.
With roughly 20 local cannabis stores waiting for their license, Schmalzbauer says it’s a relief, especially after waiting since January 2018.
“When they froze everything we had to basically stop spending money because we didn’t want to run out,” says Schmalzbauer. “We just had to wait, that was the worst part, just sitting around waiting, standing in here everyday looking around going soon, maybe.”
Horrocks has been waiting to open his doors since July 2018, when he signed the lease to his building.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen, they weren’t telling me anything, I couldn’t fish it out of any other dispensaries, they weren’t telling me anything,” says Horrocks. “It was just a big shot in the dark basically.”
AGLC upped the number of stores in Alberta to 101, after seeing a ‘modest increase’ in cannabis inventory.
“Since issuing 10 additional retail licences in January of this year we have seen a modest increase in cannabis inventory available to retailers. The increase has been enough for us to issue 26 additional retail licences,” read the AGLC’s letter.
However, the three current stores are concerned the approvals will make it a challenge to keep stock supplied.
“I don’t agree with it, we get an ordering sheet every week and it’s really not that much stock, the high demand product we’re getting enough to supply three, four people.” says Keith Ahlm, owner of Westide Weed. “I don’t see all the businesses surviving, but there’s nothing I can do about that.”
The two new retailers aren’t worried.
“We’ve heard they’ve got more producers now,” says Schmalzbauer. “So they’ve got more stock, that’s why they’ve released more licensing so we’ve gotta trust in what they say.”
“I don’t think it will make a difference if there’s 6 or even 12 dispensaries,” says Horrocks. “I think we can all still get a piece of the pie.”
Hat Cannabis is located on South Railway, within an approximate six block radius of three other stores, The Leaf, Westside Weed and the Green Exchange.
However, this doesn’t concern Schmalzbauer, who’s already greeting customers and making his store known.
“There’s going to be lots of stores everywhere,” he says. “It is just like liquor stores, I believe everyone will do fine.”
Horrocks is feeling especially positive, hoping his store on Box Springs Boulevard will serve the town of Redcliff.
“I knew I wanted to be closer to this side of town for Redcliff,” says Horrocks. “Because I kind of had a sense in the beginning that there was no initial dispensaries going up in Redcliff.”
Both Hat Cannabis and Green Light are hoping to open their doors in May.
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