While the number of pot permits to be handed out in Saskatchewan is known — what isn’t — is who they will be awarded to.
That’s leaving some in the cannabis industry with a few questions.
Pat Warnecke of Best Buds Society in Regina is generally pleased with the private retail system the provincial government has decided to go with. However, one of his chief concerns is that big companies that are headquartered outside the province will get preferential treatment.
“We can’t leave the grassroots people behind in this industry and obviously the publicly traded companies and commercial cannabis just doesn’t suffice the needs of consumers,” said Warnecke.
The government detailed Monday how permits would be awarded under a two-phase approach. The first phase would screen applicants for financial capacity and for the ability to track inventory. The second phase would entail a lottery from qualified applicants.
Warnecke hopes the craft industry gets more consideration, as well as indigenous peoples he highlighted.
If he doesn’t get a permit, Warnecke said he’s left with little option.
“We’ll move out of the province (and) go somewhere else,” he said.
Warnecke believes if these large companies secure all the permits, Saskatchewan will lose its leaders in the cannabis industry because all the craft growers will leave. Warnecke said that might push people to the black market so they can get the craft product they want.
In addition, he said the initial number of permits given out are very low, specifically in the Queen City. This could push people to the illegal market too Warnecke thinks.
“If you only have six dispensaries in Regina, I’m going to suggest that you’re not going to get rid of the black market probably.”
The provincial government is expected to release more information on the application criteria in the coming weeks.