Cannabis pop-up stores coming to Alberta trade shows, festivals

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Image of fireworks over downtown Calgary, Alberta, Canada

(Photo by Premium Collection/stock.adobe.com)

The Canadian province of Alberta is revamping its regulations to allow cannabis retailers to operate temporary stores at age-gated events such as trade shows and festivals starting next year.

Alberta is Canada’s second-largest cannabis retail market, trailing only Ontario.

The regulatory overhaul, announced this week, is part of provincial lawmakers’ review of the recreational cannabis market to determine what regulations are working, what needs to be improved and what’s redundant.

The new rules will reduce barriers and costs for legal cannabis retailers by providing more flexibility managing in-stock merchandise, the Alberta government said in a news release.

Raj Grover, CEO of Calgary, Alberta-based retail operator High Tide, told MJBizDaily he looks forward to bringing Canna Cabana pop-up stores to festivals across the province this summer.

“Alberta has demonstrated that it is serious about building a sustainable cannabis industry that will continue to employ thousands of Albertans,” he said.

Grover said Alberta’s move sends a signal to the province’s legal cannabis industry that Premier Danielle Smith and Minister of Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction Dale Nally are ready to back their words with action.

“Within weeks of being sworn into cabinet, Minister Nally proactively reached out to the industry and hosted several roundtables with licensed producers and retailers,” Grover said.

“At those roundtables, several proposals were put forward to better equip Alberta’s cannabis industry to capture market share from the illicit market.

“The measures announced (Monday) are tangible first steps toward ensuring the sustainability of Alberta’s cannabis retailers.”

Since government regulations largely dictate revenue opportunities for heavily regulated cannabis companies, Grover is calling on Canada’s federal government to take note of the latest provincial move and to facilitate more business-friendly federal regulations.

The province also is planning to allow regulated cannabis retailers to keep products in locked display cases when stores are closed.

Currently, stores must move everything into secured storage rooms at the close of each business day.

The province also is removing restrictions on sales and transfers between cannabis retailers.

Lastly, the province plans to further allow Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis to establish limits on resale markups.

All of the changes take effect Jan. 31.

“The regulatory updates are a significant stride toward enhancing stability and reducing red tape for cannabis retailers while maintaining a commitment to public safety,” Marcie Kiziak, president of cannabis retail at Calgary-based SNDL, said in a statement.

“The improvements enable more effective inventory management, increased promotional opportunities and continued migration from the illicit market to better support the entire retail network.”

Cannabis sales in Alberta through September amounted to 662.1 million Canadian dollars ($496.5 million) in 2023.

Only Ontario had higher sales in that time frame, totaling CA$1.5 billion.

Alberta has been one of the more business-friendly locations for cannabis operators.

This year, the province has taken a number of steps designed to further improve the business environment, including:

  • Reducing the fees to list a new product in Alberta to CA$250, down 83.3% from CA$1,500.
  • Cutting shipping fees for retailers by 11%.
  • Allowing licensed producers (or their registered representatives) to provide retail cannabis stores with samples to promote their products and increase product knowledge.

Other changes include:

  • Allowing cannabis retailers the option to open for business at 9 a.m. MT.
  • Enabling Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis to supply sales data free of charge.
  • Removing restrictions for retail cannabis signage.

Matt Lamers can be reached at matt.lamers@mjbizdaily.com.