LAVAL, Que. — Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. wants to be one of the “key players” in the North American cannabis market by using its position in Canada, where the use of this substance for recreational purposes is legal, to achieve this goal.

But the expertise to be developed by the operator of convenience stores and gas stations will have to be done outside of Quebec because of provincial rules governing the sale of marijuana, company founder and executive chairman Alain Bouchard said following its annual meeting.

Unable to penetrate the Quebec market, the Quebec multinational has invested in Alberta retailer Fire & Flower, which could enable it to eventually acquire a majority stake in this company.

This is in addition to its existing partnership with Canadian cannabis giant Canopy Growth surrounding the operation of private stores.

Even though the recreational cannabis market is still in its infancy, Couche-Tard wants to go out of its way to set up a strategy that is ready to be deployed where regulations allow it, Bouchard adds.

The parent company of Circle K has turned its sights to the United States, where some states have eased the rules on marijuana, says CEO Brian Hannasch, who notes the retailer has long experience selling age-restricted products.

Couche-Tard has already started selling cannabidiol (CBD) products, a compound with potential medicinal qualities but without significant levels of THC — a compound in cannabis that produces a high.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2019.

Company in this story: (TSX:ATD.B, TSX:WEED)

The Canadian Press

Featured Image: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz