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HIGHLIGHTS
  1. Maximum retail cannabis stores permitted in Alberta raised to 42 per company
  2. New licence cap equates to 14 per cent of current licences
  3. Retail licence cap aims to prevent a single company from having more than 15 per cent market share in Alberta

The provincial regulator of retail cannabis in Alberta said in a letter dated Thursday to store owners that it has lifted the maximum number of stores that any one company can open to 42 after granting more licences than expected. Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) had previously told retailers they could open no more than 37 stores.

The letter, which was seen by Cannabis Professional, comes after Alberta issued its 300th licence this week - by far the most licensed pot shops in any province.

The AGLC previously estimated that Alberta would likely have 250 retail cannabis licences, and said one company cannot operate more than 15 per cent of the stores in the province, in order to ensure “adequate competition in the marketplace” as well as allowing smaller retailers to enter the market. This meant that one company could open a maximum of 37 stores.

As of Sept. 16, however, AGLC had issued 283 cannabis retail store licences. So, on Oct. 10 it stated in a letter to retail cannabis licensees that the maximum number is now set at 42 until Dec. 31, 2020, “to ensure the issuing of new licences will not result in more than 15 per cent of the total number of cannabis licences.”

Since mid-September, however, AGLC has continued to issue licences and is expected to keep doing so. As of Oct. 10, AGLC website showed 301 retail cannabis licences had been issued and the new cap of 42 equates to just 14 per cent of the 301 licences.

The bulk of the licences have been issued in the last 4-1/2 months, when AGLC lifted a six-month moratorium that was established due to a nation-wide supply shortage. The move sent retailers scrambling to hire employees in order to open new stores, after AGLC issued as much as 20 licences per week throughout the summer.

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