Saskatchewan has picked the retailers for its 51 cannabis stores by random draw, and five companies have won big.
According to the CBC, 17 (or one-third) of the available permits went to one of five companies, which prompted the minister in charge of the Saskatchewan Gaming and Liquor Authority (SLGA) Gene Makowsky to defend the process, saying,
“It’s not always what the numbers might entail. So again, random draw, transparent process. That’s just what came out of the draw”.
The five big winners are listed below:
- Canopy Growth Corp.-owned Tweed Grasslands, Yorkton won the most permits out of anyone with five
- Prairie Sky Cannabis Inc. won four
- Synergy Five Investments got three
- 1159711 B.C. Ltd. also got three
- Aura Cannabis Inc. (not to be confused with Aurora Cannabis) got two
There were over 1,500 applicants for the cannabis permits, and the most sought-after locations were for Saskatchewan’s largest cities, Saskatoon and Regina, which received 165 and 157 applications, respectively. Saskatoon had seven permits up for grabs while Regina had six.
Since applying for multiple permits in the same zone was not allowed, it was in retailers’ best interests to apply in as many zones as possible to maximize their chances of winning. This favoured the larger companies who had more resources and could afford to do so, which may help explain why licensed producers won multiple permits.
The full list of winners is available here.
Retailers have one-year after cannabis is legalized to open up, and if they fail to do that within that time period, the permit will go back to the SLGA and it will be awarded to the runner-up.
Saskatchewan will have almost twice as many liquor stores than cannabis shops
For comparison’s sake, Saskatchewan has approximately 100 liquor stores, 50 of which were privatized in a major shake-up to the province’s liquor industry in late 2016. There were charges of unfairness in that process too, as three large chains (Metro Liquor, Sobeys, and Liquor Depot) got 12 (or 24%) locations in the highly-coveted urban areas. Another six stores were awarded to Saskatchewan Gaming and Liquor Authority employees who were affected by the change, and they were given preferential treatment during the bidding process.
Featured image courtesy of Radio-Canada.
Regina Leader-Post: Saskatchewan’s flawed liquor privatization process favours major chains