Calgary to tighten its hold as Canada's cannabis capital

Calgary already has 29 cannabis stores and a few dozen more are expected to open in the weeks ahead as a provincial moratorium on new stores has been lifted.

Dozens of new stores expected to open in weeks ahead as province lifts moratorium

New Leaf Cannabis is set to open a ninth store in Calgary this week. (CBC)

Calgary already has 29 cannabis stores. Ready for 25 more in the weeks ahead?

With the provincial government's decision to lift a moratorium on new stores, it's expected to clear five new stores to open in Alberta each week as pot supplies improve.

A business strategist with the City of Calgary's community standards said new stores will be popping up around town and it should be noticeable.

Matt Zabloski said 25 store owners already have their development permit, building permit and business licence for a pot shop.

All they need is the go ahead from the Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis Commission to open their doors.

And just wait. More stores are coming. A lot more.

Calgary has a third of Alberta's pot shops

"We have 197 development permits that have been released as of the end of May, meaning that those are stores that have their land use approval from the city," said Zabloski.

"They're in various stages of build-out. Some of them haven't even started construction yet. Some have finished construction and all they're waiting for is that licence from the province and to get stock on the shelves in order to start operating."

A smattering of green and red dots shows stores that have either had their land use permits approved or rejected, respectively, from the city in downtown Calgary as of June 3. (City of Calgary)

Calgary has about one-third of all cannabis stores in the province so with the province approving five more a week for the near term, Zabloski said that should mean one or two new outlets opening in the city each week for the next couple of months.

One of the new stores will open Wednesday in a Varsity strip mall. New Leaf Cannabis already has eight stores in Calgary and this will be its newest outlet in town.

The company, which is owned by National Access Cannabis, is planning four new outlets as soon as it can get licences from the AGLC.

CEO of National Access Mark Goliger said they're very pleased the moratorium has been lifted.

"We've been carrying built-out locations and we had postponed additional construction, waiting for momentum and an announcement [on the moratorium] and so now, we can stop cooling our heels and get back to work, which is fantastic," said Goliger.

Peak pot

The AGLC lifted the moratorium last week as it said the supply of cannabis has been steadily increasing.

Goliger said from his company's perspective, time will tell if the shortages that appeared soon after cannabis was legalized last October have been resolved.

"I do not know what the AGLC's forecasts and forward supply forecasts look like. I only have their feedback that things look very positive for the months to come," he said.

As for when the city might hit peak cannabis in the retail sector, Zabloski answers that applications for cannabis stores keep coming in to city hall.

"I wouldn't even want to guess at where market saturation is," he said. "That's something that we're obviously going to see in the next little bit, is where it settles out."


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