Saskatchewan’s business-friendly approach could pay off for cannabis companies and consumers alike

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The province’s decision to tackle cannabis legalization by implementing a relatively liberal cannabis framework compared to some other provinces has begun to yield big results. Unlike Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and Alberta, private sector companies, such as Inner Spirit Holdings, are permitted to operate online dispensaries in Saskatchewan.

The company has announced it is doing just that with the launch of a cannabis retail website. “We have become Canada’s number one cannabis retailer by continually finding new ways to deliver the best shopping experience for our customers,” claimed Darren Bondar, president and CEO of Inner Spirit.

“We were the first out in Canada with the Leafly Pickup service that allows customers to order online and then pick up and purchase products in-store at our locations. Now we’re offering online ordering and delivery of recreational cannabis across Saskatchewan in partnership with Shopify (TSX:SHOP), Pineapple Express and Canada Post,” he said.

It’s the sort of ease of access that Saskatchewan residents have grown accustomed to. “Saskatchewan has taken the approach where they are friendly to private enterprise and things like online cannabis sales,” Adam Coates, chief commercial officer of Westleaf Inc., a vertically integrated cannabis company that operates the Prairie Records retail chain, noted in a Financial Post article.

“So you can order from us, and we’ll offer you a one- or two-hour delivery option, and that’s how you can get your cannabis,” Coates said.

Compare that to consumers in Ontario, who can only receive deliveries of legal cannabis from the province’s government-run stores. While the provincial government has revealed plans to allow customers to pre-order cannabis from private retailers online or by phone, they must pick up the product at a physical store themselves.

Compare that to consumers in Ontario, who can only receive deliveries of legal cannabis from the province’s government-run stores / Photo: iStock/Getty Images Plus iStock / Getty Images Plus

And while Ontario has signalled it will grant more retail licences than the 75 currently issued, no timeline has been given for the process.

“The Province of Saskatchewan has proven to be a positive regulatory environment for the retail cannabis sector,” said Coates, adding that it will soon be allowed to open more physical stores. “The province recently announced that it’s moving forward with a phased-in, open-market system for cannabis retail licensing in the spring of 2020,” he said.

“Spiritleaf will be looking to add new franchised and corporate-owned stores in locations throughout Saskatchewan to serve more communities,” Bondar noted.

Anyone in Ontario paying attention?


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