In a stark contrast to Ontario and New Brunswick, the province of Manitoba announced today that it wants a “hybrid model” of private retailers with government oversight to sell legal marijuana in July.
Manitoba’s Liquor and Lotteries Corporation will have the task of obtaining the cannabis supply for the prairie province, and a series of private retail stores will dispense the product to consumers.
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister added in his announcement today that cannabis will not be sold in the same locations as alcohol. This conscious decision to use private dispensaries was cited as a cost-effective way for the province to avoid building new storefronts.
Manitoba is now taking applications to open standalone dispensaries and even chains of stores that will be ready to operate as early as July 2, 2018. The minimum age to purchase marijuana in Manitoba has not yet been revealed, however, the minimum age requirement to consume alcohol in the province is 18.
Retailers fortunate enough to be part of this history-in-the-making opportunity will be required to adhere to various regulations, including being distanced away from schools. Exact details of the regulations have yet to be announced.
The premier added that in the eyes of the province, cannabis should be accessible within a 30-minute drive for approximately 90 percent of the population. Manitoba is open to the idea of the private retailers selling weed online as well.
This significant divergence from the government-monopoly models announced by Ontario and New Brunswick is a straightforward indication that Manitoba is looking to capitalize on Canada’s hottest new crop through growth and retail competition. Trade Minister Blaine Pedersen said it’s clear “Manitoba is open for business.”
Premier Pallister does not believe there are enough licensed producers in the province to meet demand, but he hopes the cannabis cultivation industry will expand.
The regulation of private retail dispensaries in Manitoba will undoubtedly be similar to British Columbia when the western province finally makes its announcement. Ontario is in the process of choosing locations for its government-run monopoly and has announced the first 14 cities.