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Province Announces Cannabis Retailers

by Shanine Sealey

On June 1st, the Government of Saskatchewan announced that the cannabis retailers for the province had been chosen. With 51 cannabis retail stores expected in Saskatchewan, more than two-thirds of the applicants are from Saskatchewan or have operations within the province. The successful applicants were chosen by SLGA and Gene Makowsky, Minister Responsible for SLGA said that, “This represents the next step in the process of having a privately-operated cannabis retail system carefully regulated by SLGA.” He continued on to state that, “There was a lot of interest in the public Request for Proposal process, resulting in many new businesses that will invest in our province.”

The chosen applicant for Martensville is Prairie Sky Cannabis Inc. (PSC), a Saskatchewan company based out of Regina who were also approved for locations in Battleford, Estevan and Moosomin. PSC is run by partners and brothers John and David Thomas. John, a University of Saskatchewan graduate has previously worked as a pharmacist. “As a health care professional, I think I bring a unique knowledge base to the recreational cannabis industry, and I believe my past experience running a pharmacy will be of benefit to us,” said John. Another benefit, John added is that David is an electrical engineer, which gives them an added bonus. “We complement each other well because he has a much better understanding of everything IT and will allow us to use the proper technologies to run both the retail and online components of the business.”

Beginning this past March, a two phase Request for Proposal (RFP) process took place, with the first phase consisting of a screening for qualifications focused on financial sales/inventory tracking systems. Those that qualified were then put into the second phase which was a lottery draw and from there the successful operators were chosen. PSC applied for permits within 29 of the communities across the province and upon completing their application in April, they were notified in May that they were chosen for four of their permits. “We are excited and thrilled that we won the opportunity for four permits. We realize this was lucky and the probability of winning 4 of our 29 applications was very low. We’re working very hard to make the most of this opportunity,” John explained.

The next step for PSC is opening their four selected permits for legalization, which John says is complicated by the uncertainty of the time frame although there will be a 45 day window to begin the permitting process. “At this time we’ve been connecting with our communities’ local governments to introduce ourselves and ensure that we will be following the proper bylaws and procedures.” With plans to visit each of the communities in the near future to scope out potential locations, John and David are looking forward to what the future holds and working to prepare supply of product, store design, banking, media, computer software and more. Locations for all of the chosen cannabis retailers has yet to be established; however John states that PSC will be working with the City of Martensville to ensure the proper zoning as all cannabis retail locations are subject to local municipal zoning bylaws.

When asked about having knowledge as to when legalization will occur, John noted that they have not been provided that information at this time. All retail cannabis permittees must be operating within 12 months of legalization and permits will not take effect until legalization occurs.

All cannabis retail stores are required to be standalone operations, selling only cannabis, cannabis accessories and ancillary items as defined by SLGA. Alcohol sales will not be permitted in cannabis stores.

You can follow updates from Prairie Sky Cannabis Inc. at www.prairieskycannabis.com, or follow them on Instagram and Twitter.

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