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HIGHLIGHTS
  1. AGLC issues 20 retail cannabis licences on Tuesday, double the number last week
  2. Total pot shop licences in Alberta at 156 one month after moratorium lifted
  3. Alberta now on track for more than 200 cannabis store licences by end of summer

Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) issued 20 retail cannabis licences on Tuesday, double the amount granted the week prior and four times the pace the government agency said it would distribute permits since lifting the moratorium on May 30, due to improved cannabis supplies.

There are now 156 retail cannabis licences in Alberta, up from 136 last week, as the province that privatized recreational pot shops continues to have Canada’s majority. In stark contrast, the most populated province of Ontario currently has 22 cannabis stores open for business under the government’s current imposed limit of 25.

“We have continued to see an increase in supply so feel comfortable with issuing more licences [20 this week] and will continue to monitor week by week,” said AGLC Spokeswoman Angelle Sasseville, adding that the number of future licences issued “is fully dependent on supply.”

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AGLC placed a freeze on new licences in November 2018, when the national shortage of legal cannabis meant many licensed stores were running out of supplies between weekly deliveries.

In late-May, AGLC said it would start issuing new permits at the rate of five per week and, at that time, it already had 115 approved applications that had been submitted prior to the moratorium, while even more wait in the queue at different stages of development.

The move comes after AGLC – Alberta’s retail cannabis regulator and only pot wholesaler – nearly doubled the number of licensed producers (LPs) with which it has supply contracts to 29, from just 15 last year. The increased speed in licence distribution signals higher output by LPs amid a national shortage of legal supplies.

In the past month, since the licence freeze was lifted, pot retailers in Alberta have been on a hiring frenzy to staff new stores that are now opening at a rapid pace across the province, with some companies offering competitive salaries and even signing bonuses amid competition from other stores.

If AGLC continues its quickened pace in issuing cannabis retail licences, Alberta store owners could have more than 200 licences by the end of summer and in time to benefit from increased sales expected from the introduction of new edible and concentrated products slated to be legalized later this year.

The number of licensed adult-use marijuana stores in Alberta is expected to rise even further as more applications are approved. There is no maximum placed on the number of total cannabis stores in the province, but a single company cannot hold more than 15 per cent of all licences in Alberta.

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