Pot to the people: Sask. cannabis retailers pleased with provincial government's plan

With the Saskatchewan government’s announcement that marijuana will be sold by private companies once the drug is federally legalized, existing entrepreneurs are queuing up.

Entrepreneurs in Saskatoon, Regina aiming for some of the 60 retail permits

About 60 private retailers in the province will be given permits to sell cannabis, the Saskatchewan government said Monday. (CBC News)

With the Saskatchewan government's announcement that marijuana will be sold by private companies once the drug is federally legalized, existing entrepreneurs are queuing up.

SLGA said it will issue about 60 retail permits in about 40 municipalities and First Nations across the province.

Kelly Csada, owner of the medicinal marijuana shop Kelz in Regina, said she plans to apply for one of the permits to sell recreational cannabis.

"I'm passionate about this industry as a whole," she said.

"I love the medicinal side, but how great would it be to help people understand who have never used cannabis before and have people in there that are knowledgeable? I would love to be able to do that."

Csada said she was happy to hear that the model will include private retailers — unlike in Ontario, where pot shops will be government run.     

"I think regulating private stores is what should've been done awhile ago, but I'm so happy that the government is going to do that now," said Csada.

"Regulate, license and make sure that they're getting product that is quality controlled."

While the government provided information on some key points on Monday, it said the decision on the minimum age for cannabis consumption will be made later this spring.

Csada said she thinks the age should be 19, as it is with alcohol.

Mike Francis, who is a partner at the Saskatoon medicinal marijuana dispensary Best Buds, agreed, saying the youngest the legal age should be is 18.

Francis boasted the perks of cannabis, and said many Best Buds clients are using medical marijuana to wean themselves off other substances, including opioids. 

He was happy with the province's plan, but also said the number of retailers in each community doesn't need to be capped. He said there are already 20 in Saskatchewan. 

"I think that competition and service and those things will help better dictate how many cannabis stores will be needed in the province," said Francis.

He expects first-time users to try cannabis and test edible products when the drug becomes legal.

Clay Sparks, a Saskatoon entrepreneur who has started Flower Power Cannabis Farms, said he expects to see fewer people smoking and more people consuming cannabis in other ways, including edibles and cocktails.

He said he is interested in farming marijuana and wants to open two recreational cannabis stores in Saskatoon.

His goal is accessibility.

"It's really nice to envision a cannabis industry where you can proudly walk through the door, just like you do to buy your booze for the weekend," Sparks said.

"I think it's going to be nice when we evolve and be able to look at the consumption of cannabis more like alcohol is consumed recreationally."