Pot retailers seeking 'blue sky' may look to Waterloo region: Analyst

As the province opens up a new round of cannabis store licences, at least one analyst thinks Waterloo region will get a store as retailers look for 'some blue sky' away from established stores.

Still not enough stores to meet demand, says Jay Rosenthal of Business of Cannabis

A 'budtender' helps a customer shop for cannabis at Toronto's Hunny Pot, one of the retail stores licensed to sell cannabis in Ontario that opened in April. Waterloo region does not have a cannabis store, but may see one with a new round of licenses being issued. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

Cannabis retailers who are looking for a good place to set up shop if they win a licence in the province's latest lottery may find Waterloo region very appealing, says one pot industry analyst.

"I think you actually will get some," said Jay Rosenthal. He is co-founder and president of Business of Cannabis, which reports on the pot industry.

"The idea for the next retailers would be: find some blue sky so that you're the only store within driving distance to actually sell your cannabis," he said.

"Even though there are 25 already allocated throughout the province and another 42 more, that's still not nearly enough to service the demand here in Ontario. So this is going to be another license to print money based on cannabis sales."

50 new licences

The province announced on Wednesday that they would issue up to 50 new cannabis store licences, but there's a new process. 

Anyone applying must meet requirements that include having a retail space and proving they have the money available to open the store, including access to $250,000 and a line of credit. The stores also have to open by October.

Rosenthal applauded this move, saying that in the last round of the lottery, "it really took $75 and an Internet connection to win the lottery."

As well, eight of the 50 licences will go to First Nation communities. The process for those stores will be different and will not be part of the general lottery. Instead, it will be first-come, first-serve.

Cannabis seedlings at the new Aurora Cannabis facility are seen in this November 2017 file photo. Health Canada says there are now a total of 186 sites that have a federal license to cultivate, produce and/or sell cannabis. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

300+ licensed producers

Health Canada notes there are more than 300 stores licensed across the county and as of June 1, the health agency had approved 135 new licensed producers and 280 expansion requests. That includes Kitchener's James E. Wagner Cultivation, which received a license to expand in April.

As of June 28, there were a total of 186 sites that have a federal license to cultivate, produce and/or sell cannabis.

Health Canada also reports on supply and demand of cannabis on its website. The latest numbers are from the end of April and it notes at that time, there was 31,880 kg of finished dried cannabis products and almost 72,246 litres of finished cannabis oil products in inventory.

William Werth, left, is the chief technology officer for James E. Wagner Cultivation in Kitchener. He's seen here standing with company CEO Nathan Woodworth in the company's expanded facility, the former Lear plant in Kitchener. The company received its license to expand in April 2019. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)


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