The next wave of cannabis stores has begun to arrive in Manitoba, giving Canada’s regulated marijuana industry a chance to increase market share in the country’s fifth-most-populous jurisdiction.
Manitoba’s government started taking new applications for licensed cannabis stores on June 1, prioritizing applicants without any existing Manitoba stores.
Provincial cannabis wholesaler Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries (MBLL) told Marijuana Business Daily it has received more than 120 applications for new retail agreements.
“It typically takes between two and four months to enter an applicant into an agreement,” wrote an MBLL spokeswoman.
The first of the new wave of stores, The Joint Cannabis Shop, opened in Winnipeg in early August.
Ariel Glinter, head of business development for The Joint, said the new store quickly attracted strong interest from consumers.
“As soon as we put up the sign, I think we had customers calling within five or 10 minutes asking if there was cannabis for sale, so people are definitely excited to have greater access to cannabis products,” he said, noting particular interest in bulk package sizes at discount price points.
“I certainly think there’s definitely room for significantly more retail access points than are currently licensed in the province,” Glinter added.
A second The Joint Cannabis Shop location has also been licensed by provincial cannabis store regulator Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba (LGCA), bringing the total number of cannabis store licenses in the province to 33.
The MBLL spokeswoman said the agency expects more retailers will join the market this fall.
“Opening dates are dependent on each private retailer and how quickly they can get their location up and running,” she wrote.
Manitoba is home to nearly 1.4 million people, or roughly 3.6% of Canada’s population.
Regulated adult-use cannabis sales in Manitoba were worth nearly 8.2 million Canadian dollars ($6.2 million) in June.
The prairie province was an early leader in rolling out private-sector cannabis stores after adult-use legalization in October 2018.
However, Manitoba’s per capita cannabis store count has since fallen behind most other provinces that allow private marijuana sales.