Meet your new Calgary pot dealers

Some of the movers and shakers in Canada's budding pot industry are proud to talk about their move into marijuana, while others are reluctant to say anything.

A billionaire family and a former RCMP commissioner are a few of the new cannabis players in Alberta

Four 20 Premium Market is one of two retail outlets in Calgary to receive preliminary operating licenses from AGLC, which predicts 80 to 100 more retail licenses will be handed out by the end of October. (Bryan Labby/CBC)

Charles Mannix is one of the directors of 420 Premium Market — one of just two cannabis retail outlets in Calgary set to blaze a new trail now that marijuana use is legal in Canada.

And, yes, he's from that Mannix family.

They're one of the wealthiest families in the country with an estimated net worth of $3.3 billion, according to a recent ranking.

During a brief phone chat, Mannix would only confirm he's a director with the company and that he's excited about its future prospects.

420 Premium opens Wednesday at 10 a.m. in a busy strip mall at 9737 Macleod Trail S.W. The company plans to open another location in the northwest community of Sage Hill, but there could be more.

Jeff Mooij is the CEO of 420 Premium Market, one of only two retail outlets in Calgary to receive approval for so-called Weed Wednesday on Oct. 17. (Bryan Labby/CBC)

The only other retail outlet to open in Calgary on legalization day is Nova Cannabis at 10816 Macleod Trail South, where the doors open at 10 a.m.

It's owned by Alcanna Incorporated, an Edmonton-based, publicly traded company that operates Liquor Depot and Wine and Beyond stores in Alberta.

"We're expecting a lot of excitement and a lot of energy," said Shelley Girard, the vice president of brand and strategy development. 

"We think there's a lot of consumer demand, we've got our vault stocked," she said from the company's store in Willow Park.

Girard said they're also working toward opening up the maximum allowable number of stores in Alberta.

AGLC expects 250 retail cannabis stores to open in Alberta in the first year of legalization. 

Expansion plans

The CEO of 420 Premium Market — who for the record would not talk about any of his fellow directors — said they would love to reach the limit for any one person or business to own a cannabis store but would not elaborate on the company's plans.

The limit is 37 stores owned by one person or business entity.

But Jeff Mooij said, for now, he prefers to bask in the reality of the company's first operation.

"We're here, we're happy," said Mooij — who predicts the store will pull in $100,000 in sales on day one.

"It is part of history, this is a massive social change that our country is about to undertake and our world is watching and everybody wants to be a part of this," he said.

Up to 100 more licenses expected soon

While it may seem odd that Calgary and its estimated 1.2-million inhabitants were given just two approved retail outlets for Weed Wednesday, the number of stores is expected to quickly increase.

The AGLC said between 80 and 100 retail cannabis applicants are very close to receiving their licenses and that should happen by the end of the month — but it could take up to two weeks for a retailer to secure cannabis products once its license is granted.

Norman Inkster, commissioner of the RCMP from 1987 to 1994, is one of the directors of Edmonton-based Fire and Flower Inc., a new cannabis retailer with stores in Alberta and Saskatchewan. (Norman Inkster)

The government agency said it can't speculate on how many will be in Calgary or southern Alberta, but it said that information will updated on its website starting Wednesday.

The AGLC's list of pending cannabis license applications shows 10 stores for Calgary, however the exact opening dates aren't known and it's unclear whether any or all of them will proceed. The list changes on an almost daily basis, with some companies being added while others are deleted.

There are several numbered companies and some with interesting names, including Mount Kushmore, Yellow Submarine, Canna Cabana, Nirvana Canna, McWeed and the Sweet Tree Cannabis Company.

NewLeaf Cannabis is planning to open 17 stores in Alberta, but it's not known exactly when.

Former RCMP commissioner 

Another blossoming cannabis retailer is Fire and Flower. It's an Edmonton-based company that will swing open its doors at three locations in the Edmonton area Wednesday.

The company has two Calgary locations on the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis' list of pending retail applications.

A corporate search revealed Norman Inkster, a former commissioner of the RCMP, as one of three directors.

"It's a good business, Fire and Flower is going to go about it in a very, very responsible way," the 80-year-old said from his office in Toronto.

This former sports bar, at 7337 Sierra Morena Boulevard, is believed to be the site of a proposed cannabis retail outlet in southwest Calgary. (Bryan Labby/CBC)

Inkster said part of the company's profits will be returned to the community, but those details haven't been worked out.

Given his background in law enforcement, he said he took time to consider whether he should invest in cannabis.

"I spent most of my working life as a police officer trying to keep drugs off the street, but I must say on reflection and over time I've been reluctantly obliged to conclude the war on drugs is not going particularly well," he said.

He said from a business perspective demand is not going to end — but with legalized marijuana they can take away the supply and profits from "the bad guys."

For the record, he has no plans to light up come Wednesday.

"On the recreational side, my answer is no, I have no plans to use marijuana," he said. 

Bryan Labby is an enterprise reporter with CBC Calgary. If you have a good story idea or tip, you can reach him at or on Twitter at @CBCBryan.


Bryan Labby

Enterprise reporter

Bryan Labby is an enterprise reporter with CBC Calgary. If you have a good story idea or tip, you can reach him at or on Twitter at @CBCBryan.


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