(This story has been updated from an earlier version.)
One of Canada’s biggest supermarket operators plans to enter the business of selling recreational marijuana products pending legalization late this summer.
Loblaw, a leader in the country’s supermarket industry, said some of its locations in Newfoundland are among 23 selected as “qualified applicants” to become licensed cannabis retailers.
“While people might imagine recreational cannabis on our grocery shelves in Newfoundland and Labrador, this is not our plan,” the company told Marijuana Business Daily in a statement.
Instead, Loblaw intends to sell adult-use cannabis products behind the counter in small, existing tobacco shops. The shops would be adjacent – and separate – to its wholly owned chain of Dominion grocery store outlets in that province.
Loblaw joins an increasingly crowded field of marijuana retail hopefuls across Canada, which already involves hundreds of entrepreneurs, joint ventures with licensed marijuana producers and independent chains.
Vahan Ajamian, a Toronto-based analyst with Beacon Securities, said Loblaw’s entry is a signal “we could see enhanced competition” in provinces that allow private retail.
“It shows that wherever private retail is allowed, Canada’s big retailers like Loblaw and Couche-Tard are going to want to get in on the action, one way or another,” he said. Couche-Tard is a convenience store operator.
Loblaw said its plan to sell recreational cannabis in Newfoundland “has nothing to do with Shoppers Drug Mart or our application to distribute medical cannabis, which remains our focus.”
Earlier this year, Loblaw became one of the first major companies in Canada to cover MMJ in its employee medical plan.
Industry heavyweight Canopy Growth also announced the location of a new production facility and additional retail outlets in Newfoundland.
Matt Lamers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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