'Nothing's for sure,' warns Alberta cannabis regulator as retailers seek space – CBC.ca

Alberta’s regulator of cannabis retailers is warning against renting shop space before receiving a licence.

Recreational use of the plant, long considered an illicit drug, is expected to be legalized July 1, pending approval of a divided Senate.

Before this happens, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) is taking applications from retailers hoping to sell cannabis in the province. To do so, they must demonstrate a proof of an offer of a lease at minimum.

But some, like NewLeaf Cannabis, have already started renting space — and advertising — before the licences are issued.

“He’s obviously fully signed and invested in those locations,” commission spokesperson Michelle Hynes-Dawson said Thursday. “The only thing we would caution is, nothing’s for sure.”

Wait for city rules

The AGLC started accepting applications earlier this month, but approvals hinge on municipal bylaws, few of which are for sure at this point. In Calgary, cannabis-related bylaws aren’t expected to be established until the end of April.

Each application will also go through a public consultation period, where community members can write in on their thoughts on the proposed location.

That means some retailers, Hynes-Dawson said, could see their proposed shops rejected. If that’s the case, or the retailer has to change location for another reason, the commission will process the changed address at no additional cost, she said.

‘That’s the risk’

That’s a calculated risk NewLeaf Cannabis has purposely taken, chief administrative officer Angus Taylor says. Since September, NewLeaf Cannabis has been renting space for some of the 22 shops it hopes to gain permission to open.

“Finding prime locations for our stores was something that we thought was a competitive advantage if we started early, so that’s what led us to make those commitments when we did,” Taylor told the Calgary Eyeopener.

“We’ve been paying rent in a number of

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