Report: Quebec government to set up 20-40 rec marijuana stores

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The Quebec government will establish a nonprofit public company to manage the distribution and sale of recreational cannabis within the province, according to a report in the newspaper La Presse.

The news means entrepreneurs will be blocked from participating in marijuana retail in Canada’s two largest provinces, Ontario and Quebec.

According to La Presse, the corporation will be a not-for-profit subsidiary of the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ), a provincial Crown corporation responsible for the trade of alcoholic beverages.

It will oversee 20-40 retail counters, according to the report in the French-language newspaper.

The newspaper noted the province wants to table a bill before mid-November. The Quebec government has not yet unveiled the retail plan, however.

The new enterprise will be under the purview of the province’s Ministry of Finance.

The objective of the new corporation will be to break even, and any profits would go to drug-prevention programs.

The retail plan, if implemented as described in the La Presse report, is similar to the Ontario government’s sales model, but even less ambitious.

In September, Ontario unveiled its plan to sell recreational marijuana through a chain of 40 government-run stores initially, expanding to 150 in a few years – a move that effectively shuts private businesses out of Ontario’s marijuana retail space and will cost taxpayers in excess of 150 million Canadian dollars ($115 million).

If the province takes New Brunswick’s lead by inking supply deals with local cultivators, the biggest winner could be Gatineau-based Hydropothecary, so far the only LP in Quebec.

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