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Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) will issue 26 new retail licences for cannabis stores, lifting the province’s tally above 100, due to a “modest increase in cannabis inventory available to retailers,” according to a letter seen by The Globe and Mail.

AGLC spokeswoman Chara Goodings confirmed the commission is contacting retailers directly but did not provide any additional information.

The commission has increased its list of dedicated licensed producers that are supplying cannabis products for the recreational market to 23 - from 15 in 2018 - though some are small growers while others are not expected to ship their first supplies until later this year.

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This follows the surprise issuance of 10 retail licences in January, when cannabis supplies improved slightly after AGLC issued a pseudo moratorium on new licences due to tight supplies in November.

James Burns, CEO of Alcanna Inc., which operates five Nova Cannabis stores in Alberta, told Cannabis Professional the company received three of the new licenses.

Alberta has the most cannabis retail licences in Canada at 75 as of Thursday, and the next 26 will be the next in queue after successfully completing the approval process. Inventory levels are not yet stable enough to fully open the licensing process or accept new applications, though AGLC is “in conversation with many more” licensed producers, according to the letter.

“It’s a positive indicator that AGLC is doing everything they can to issue more licences and that supply dynamics are improving,” said Theo Zunich, chief executive of Solo Growth Corp., which operates one store in Red Deer, Alta.

“We do not expect to be one of the 26.”

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