‘Cutthroat’ cannabis market smoking out some Calgary pot shops


4 years after legalization there are almost 200 pot outlets in Calgary, making for powerful competitors for some locally-owned outlets

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4 years after Canada legalized leisure marijuana, weed shops are persevering with to pop up in Calgary at an alarming fee for some native hashish retailers, growing competitors, driving costs down and scaling down every store’s share of the client base.

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Calgary at the moment accounts for 194 of the 763 licenced hashish suppliers in Alberta, based on the most recent numbers from provincial regulator Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Hashish. Whereas progress within the Calgary market has slowed — AGLC exhibits simply 26 new outlets have been licenced in Calgary thus far this yr in comparison with 77 by all of 2021 — some retailers say the more and more crowded discipline is placing some outlets vulnerable to closing.

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“From my understanding, fairly just a few have really closed,” stated Shawn Bali, the proprietor of Calgary-based Omkara Hashish. “It’s not only for the native shops, but it surely’s turn into a problem even for firms. Everybody’s seen a lower down in numbers of shoppers. Realistically, it doesn’t matter whether or not it’s a neighborhood retailer or if it’s an enormous company; everybody’s sort of struggling.”

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A report by Hashish Benchmarks analyzing the Canadian hashish retail market urged there was an oversaturation of pot outlets in Alberta as of April 2022.

Primarily based on knowledge from Colorado and Oregon — U.S. states that legalized weed earlier than Canada did — the report says the optimum service degree for authorized hashish is one retailer for each 7,500 individuals. Alberta has one store for each 5,911 individuals, which the group says is 27 per cent too many and can doubtless end in some outlets closing their doorways over the following couple of years.

“Alberta stays an outlier, with shops persevering with to open regardless of it having the smallest inhabitants of the 4 main provinces. We count on the variety of shops in Alberta to say no over the following 24 months, as competitors intensifies and retailer economics turn into much less beneficial,” reads the report.

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Domestically-owned pot retailers are additionally confronted with the continued enlargement of bigger corporations, that are slashing costs to a degree that’s out of attain and infrequently shopping for up established native outlets. Some house owners have referred to as for a brief moratorium on new licences or rules much like B.C., the place there’s a restrict on what number of licences anybody firm can maintain. Alberta used to have an analogous rule that restricted companies from controlling greater than 15 per cent of hashish licences, however AGLC lifted it in 2020.

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“As quickly as they eliminated that 15 per cent market cap, that’s the place you simply noticed all the companies simply spreading their wings, making an attempt to purchase out every thing, open as many (outlets) as doable, and sort of tried taking on the market,” stated Bali. “It’s like a domino impact. It simply doesn’t have an effect on the storefront however every thing that comes together with it, as much as the (licenced producers), to the small guys who’re rising.”

A type of bigger corporations is Calgary-based Excessive Tide Inc., which operates 140 shops nationwide — 29 in Calgary and 75 throughout Alberta — underneath the Canna Cabana model. Omar Khan, a senior vice chairman at Excessive Tide, stated retail hashish is a “hyper-competitive” market in Alberta proper now however his firm nonetheless sees room to develop, significantly outdoors of city areas.

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“I do know that it’s powerful for some given the entire variety of shops in Alberta proper now — significantly, it’s powerful for some impartial operators,” he stated.

“We’re a pretty big chain, however we would like all, together with the impartial (outlets) in Alberta, to achieve success. So we’re open to having these varieties of discussions (on additional rules) with authorities.”

FILE PHOTO: Brianna Koversky sniffs a sample of cannabis at the Nova Cannabis retail outlet in Edmonton on Wednesday, October 17, 2018, the first day that cannabis became legal in the country.
FILE PHOTO: Brianna Koversky sniffs a pattern of hashish on the Nova Hashish retail outlet in Edmonton on Wednesday, October 17, 2018, the primary day that hashish turned authorized within the nation. Picture by Larry Wong /POSTMEDIA NETWORK

Throughout the nation, Alberta’s overload of pot outlets is the exception to the rule, with one another area nicely in need of the optimum quantity, based on Hashish Benchmarks’ report — which plots the nation’s 3,162 outlets, about 2,000 in need of the perfect quantity. Quebec is the most important anomaly on the opposite facet, with simply 88 shops serving the province’s greater than 8.6 million residents.

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Retailers are nonetheless hoping for additional support from AGLC and federal regulators of their capacity to compete with the still-thriving black market, which Khan estimates includes as much as 40 per cent of all hashish gross sales nationwide. The federal authorities is within the midst of a evaluate of the Hashish Act — the primary because it legalized leisure weed in 2018 — and Khan is in Ottawa this week with a bunch of outlets lobbying for looser rules that may put them on par with the illicit market in merchandise and costs.

“One of many issues we’re going to be asking the federal authorities is to check out whether or not the extent of the excise tax could be lowered in order that retailers can higher compete on value with the illicit market,” he stated.

“We’ve been taking better chunks and better bites out of the illicit market share in hashish. However there nonetheless stays extra to be executed in that regard.”


Twitter: @michaelrdrguez

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