Manitoba gives private sector a retail role in recreational marijuana

Women, minority execs show few gains in U.S. cannabis industry, according to the latest data from the MJBiz Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Report. Get your copy here.

Manitoba became the first province in Canada to carve out a space for the private sector to participate in recreational marijuana sales, unveiling a “hybrid” model that gives entrepreneurs and the public sector a role.

The ruling Progressive Conservative party resisted pressure from public-sector unions to hand marijuana sales exclusively to civil servants.

The Manitoba government will soon issue a request for proposals from applicants seeking to operate privately owned retail locations once adult-use sales begin next year.

The deadline for submissions is Dec. 22, with initial locations to open July 2. (The federal government plans to legalize adult-use cannabis July 1, which is a Sunday.)

Manitoba’s hybrid model will give the government’s Liquor and Gaming Authority an expanded mandate to regulate the entire sector.

The Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corp. will oversee wholesale and distribution, leveraging economies of scale through bulk purchasing to undercut black-market pricing.

Here’s what you need to know about adult-use cannabis sales in Canada:

  • Manitoba’s proposed system puts the province’s only two licensed producers – Bonify and Delta 9 Cannabis – in a good position to capitalize.
  • Manitoba’s decision represents a sharp turn from plans by Ontario and New Brunswick to sell recreational marijuana through government-owned stores. Quebec also is expected to use a government-run approach.
  • Private businesses will be barred from selling marijuana to almost two-thirds of Canada’s population.
  • British Columbia and Alberta haven’t decided what their retail models will look like yet.

To sign up for our weekly Canada marijuana business newsletter, click here.