Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) has approved cannabis retail licenses for two new stores in Lethbridge, which once opened, will bring the city’s total to nine shops.
For many — including the owner of newly licensed shop Nirvana in west Lethbridge — it has been a long wait.
“I was approved by AGLC in [the] summer, in July last year,” said Gurdeep Singh. “But then there was one hurdle about this location. So then it wasn’t approved by the city. [So] then I went through rezoning this property so that I could open it here.”
Singh has been paying rent for his empty location for over a year.
“I was approved [by the city] in November, but the same week I got an email from AGLC saying they wouldn’t be issuing any more licences,” Singh said.
A moratorium was issued by AGLC in November; preventing the acceptance of new retail licence applications as well as the issuing of new retail licences, due to a low supply of product.
The moratorium was lifted on May 30 once the AGLC felt their supply had sufficiently increased to meet the demand. Less than a month later, Singh got the green light for his shop.
The green light was also given to Fire and Flower, which will become the fifth cannabis store along Mayor Magrath Drive. Nirvana becomes the third store on the west side of Lethbridge, and there is one additional store in the downtown core.
The AGLC website lists 156 total licensees in the province.
The addition of more stores has raised slight concern from existing shops in the city, as they wonder if there’s enough product keep everyone happy.
“I think it’s healthy competition,” said Mitch Caldwell, a co-manager at Twenty Four Karats. “[But] I don’t know what the supply’s going to look like once all the new stores open up or anything like that.”
Twenty Four Karats was the second cannabis retail store opened in Lethbridge back in November and Caldwell said that while there was a learning curve for everyone in the new business, things have improved quickly.
“[In the] earlier months, it was maybe 20 different kinds of things that you could pick from,” said Caldwell. “We were sold out of most of our popular items by Thursday or Friday.”
“[Now], most of that stuff is lasting through the weekend and the orders are getting much bigger, so yeah it’s improving big time.”
According to the City of Lethbridge, 35 development permits have been issued in the city — with just two having been withdrawn — and 13 business licenses have been issued.