Saskatoon

Pot permit lottery winner says his bid to open 3 Sask. stores has been denied

It's unclear if or when the chance to operate recreational cannabis stores in Rosetown, Melfort and Outlook will go to previously-chosen runner-ups.

Fate of cannabis stores in Rosetown, Melfort and Outlook up in the air

Jean Paul Lim says his application to open cannabis retail stores in Melfort, Outlook and Rosetown has been denied by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority, which is not commenting on Lim's application. (Clarity Medical Centre)

A B.C. doctor who won the chance to run three Saskatchewan recreational cannabis stores says he's been denied his opportunity.

Jean Paul Lim was one of the luckier winners in the Saskatchewan government's recreational cannabis store draw. He won the chance to obtain cannabis retail store permits for three locations: Melfort, Rosetown and Outlook.

But first, Lim had to pass the final stage of applicant review by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA).

"They denied my application," Lim said Friday via email. 

How SLGA vets people

SLGA's final review of applicants focuses on good character and financial disclosure, according to an information sheet sent to people who entered the lottery. 

"SLGA is unable to issue a cannabis retail store permit to an applicant if SLGA has evidence that it considers credible and reliable that the applicant is not of good character," according to the request-for-proposal (RFP) sheet.

"In considering good character, SLGA will evaluate the character of individuals, partners, shareholders and corporations as well as any other key participants in the cannabis retail store proposed to be permitted."

The review also looks at "whether the proponent has sufficient financial resources to establish and operate the cannabis retail store."

So what now?

SLGA declined to directly address specific questions about Lim or general questions about the permitting process, such as whether denied applicants can appeal the SLGA decision.

"The permitting application process is confidential until it has been finalized," said David Morris, an SLGA spokesperson.

At the time of the lottery, SLGA selected runner-ups for each community, "to be used only if the initial proponent selected is not eligible for a cannabis permit," SLGA has previously told CBC News.

SLGA has previously declined to share the list of runner-ups.

According to the RFP info sheet, runner-ups will only be notified if original applicants "fails to apply or meet the application qualifications."

During an earlier stage of review, potential lottery participants were screened for "qualifications focused on financial and sales/inventory tracking systems."  

'Being held up'

Lim recently told CBC News he was worried about the state of his planned stores. 

"I am being held up in the 'due diligence' phase by the SLGA," he said at the time. "I have no idea when I can open. Two of my three sites are already completely built out and the third is about 75 per cent complete."

Lim added that he had already spent "hundreds of thousands of dollars" developing the stores.

A CBD advocate

Lim is a clinical instructor at the University of British Columbia and describes himself as an "internal medicine and complex care specialist."

He founded Clarity Medical Centre, a Vancouver clinic meant to help patients access legal medical cannabis, according to an advertorial published by the clinic last year in a weekly Vancouver newspaper.

Lim reportedly founded Clarity Medical Centre, a Vancouver clinic which helps connect patients to legal medical cannabis. (Google Maps)

Lim has spoken about treating patients with chronic pain, PTSD and anxiety using cannabidiol (CBD) — a non-intoxicating extract said to have health benefits.

During an interview with cannabis-themed podcast Yield Growth in November 2018, Lim said he was also interested in gathering data about the health effects of using CBD.

"I think the problem is that there's a lack of data out there that's reliable and objective at this point," he said. "I'm just trying to gather as much data as I can to be able to help shape policy and also to be able to help generate some hypotheses for prospective studies."

That same month, Choom Holdings Inc. — a Vancouver-based company focused on retail cannabis — announced it had acquired Clarity Medical Centre.

"Clarity Medical Centres will use a patient-focused, research-based, multidisciplinary approach, from which Dr. Lim hopes to shatter cannabis misconceptions and build scientific evidence through the collection of patient data points around cannabis as an effective treatment," according to a Choom press release.

CBC News has reached out to Lim for further comment.

About the Author

Guy Quenneville

Reporter and web writer for CBC Saskatoon

Story tips and ideas welcomed at guy.quenneville@cbc.ca

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