Government to start accepting applications to open cannabis stores in communities of less than 2,500
Ashleigh Mattern · CBC News·Posted: Apr 23, 2020 9:23 AM CT
Corey Tyacke, general manager of 5Buds Cannabis, says the business model may not work in some smaller communities. (Submitted by 5Buds Cannabis)
Starting this month, the government of Saskatchewan will be accepting applications to open cannabis stores in communities with less than 2,500 people.
One store that's looking at possibly expanding into those smaller markets is 5Buds Cannabis, says general manager Corey Tyacke. 5Buds currently has stores in Yorkton, Warman and North Battleford.
Tyacke told CBC's Blue Sky there are benefits to having cannabis stores in smaller communities.
"It makes the availability more relevant for those people who don't visit the city on a regular basis," he said. "We're finding that not everybody's comfortable buying online and not every delivery company will deliver to the smaller market."
Tyacke said the size of the community will matter; he thinks the business model may not work if the community is too small.
He also has concerns about the number of stores in any given community.
"In the smaller centres like Warman, one more store would be devastating for the two brands that are out here already."
'It's a new frontier'
Gordon Barnhart, president of Municipalities of Saskatchewan, says whether communities will be open to the idea depends on factors like cultural background and the average age of residents.
He likens the debate to the one smaller communities had about alcohol many years ago.
"It was the same sort of debate, whether the hotels or the restaurants or whatever should be able to sell alcohol," Barnhart told Blue Sky. "Today it's the same, it's a new frontier and that's with cannabis. So it varies from community to community."
He said communities are concerned about zoning pot stores properly and ensuring impaired driving laws are enforced.
Municipalities are concerned about the province sharing the income from the taxes collected, Barnhart said.
Currently, the federal government takes 25 percent and the province takes 75 percent. Barnhart said Municipalities of Saskatchewan has been lobbying for the provincial government to share 25 percent of the tax income with municipalities.
"I concede that the profits are lower than people were originally predicting but 25 percent of a large sum or of a small sum is still 25 percent," he said.
Within the first year of legalization, about $38 million was spent on cannabis in Saskatchewan, according to Statistics Canada. In comparison, $56 million was spent in Manitoba and roughly $195 million in Alberta.