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From 5 per week to 10: Alberta doubles rate of new cannabis licenses

For those looking to Alberta adult-use retailers as a gauge of how strong supply is becoming, the news is only getting better.

On May 30, the province lifted the moratorium on new cannabis stores that had been in place since November. This week, Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis announced it was doubling its efforts to license new stores across the province by moving to license ten retailers per week rather than the originally planned five.

“We have continued to see an increase in supply so feel comfortable with issuing more licences,” an AGLC spokeswoman told Globe and Mail. “We continue to monitor week by week, it is fully dependent on supply.”

While that’s good news for cannabis consumers and aspiring cannabis retailers, one group of people less pleased to see the process speeding up are the province’s head shop owners.

Prior to October 17, they competed only with one another. Because they’re in the province with the widest and most competitive array of adult-use cannabis stores, legalization brought a huge and well-trafficked assortment of new competitors—each of whom was allowed to sell cannabis along with the tools with which to consume it.

Head shop owners may not be able to afford the expensive and gruelling application for a recreational-cannabis retail license, and last summer both retailers in Ontario and in Calgary fought plans to allow cannabis retailers to stock smoking accessories after legalization—to no avail.

Today, some head shops are laying off staff and scrambling to redesign their businesses, while others are turning to specialize in higher-end glass pipes and rigs.

Jesse B. Staniforth's Bio Image
Jesse B. Staniforth

Jesse Staniforth reports on cannabis, food safety, and Indigenous issues. He is the former editor of WeedWeek Canada.

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