Saskatchewan embraces private retailers in its cannabis distribution model

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      The province of Saskatchewan will not be following in the path of its neighboring province to the east. Instead, it will be issuing permits to private retail outlets throughout the province.

      Cannabis sales will be regulated by the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority (SLGA). It will issue up to 60 permits to private retailers for shops in as many as 40 municipalities and First Nations, prioritizing communities with populations of 2,500 or more.

      Cities with larger populations are eligible for multiple permits, with the option for seven licences in Saskatoon, six in Regina, and two in smaller cities like Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, and Lloydminster. If a municipality or First Nation decides it doesn't want to have a retail store in its community, it can opt out.

      After applications are closed, the SLGA will work with an independent third party to select appropriate retail operators. Applicants will be screened for financial capacity and their ability to track and report inventory.

       A second phase will see qualified applicants entered into a lottery, with those selected required to meet 'good character' criteria before receiving a permit.

      Permitted retailers must set up standalone storefront locations, and will be given the option to operate an online store. 

      Unlike other provinces, Saskatchewan will wait until the spring to announce its minimum age to consume, purchase, and possess cannabis. So far, Alberta and Quebec have set the age at 18, in line with the age to consume and purchase alcohol in those provinces. All others—with the exception of Nunavut, which has yet to make an announcement—have made 19 the minimum age to purchase pot.