Some clarity is emerging about the cannabis stores slated to open next month in Greater Sudbury.
It has been known for weeks that a location will open on Marcus Drive, a Highlife marijuana store linked to Anton Lucic, one of two winners of the cannabis store lottery for the right to open an outlet in Northern Ontario in April. The deadline for public comment period for that outlet was March 6.
It was assumed the second store would open in another Northern Ontario city. But on Wednesday, Nick Kuzyk, chief strategy officer at High Tide Inc., confirmed the second lottery winner, Saturninus Partners, also plans to open in Greater Sudbury. While reluctant to speak on behalf of Saturninus, Kuzyk confirmed the goal is to open in April.
“I know the location and that kind of stuff is up to (Saturninus) talk about, but (the goal is) to open next month at some point,” he said.
The partners are tax lawyers, he said, who told the company this week they have selected High Tide to work with them to get the store off the ground.
“So April is the target but, you know, that's only a few weeks away. We're good at opening stores and operating stores in Alberta, and we're trying to assist these winners as best we can so that they can you know be up and running in the month of April.”
April 1 is the goal, but there are a number of regulatory and other hurdles to get through before that happens, Kuzyk said.
A call to Saturninus Partners on Wednesday seeking more details on their local plans was not returned before deadline. While Kuzyk wouldn't comment on where the store will open, a South End location has been rumoured for the second outlet.
High Tide Inc. is an Alberta-based, retail cannabis corporation also involved in manufacturing and wholesaling smoking accessories and cannabis lifestyle products. The company is helping to ensure the owners of the Sudbury store comply with the Cannabis License Act, 2018, including regulations and operator licensing and store authorization.
Kuzyk said the partners liked the company's Canna Cabana brand, a format they hope to use here and with a Hamilton store the company is also helping.
“So it's subject to (Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario) approval, but (the partners) do like that idea,” he said.
Raymond Kahnert, a senior communications adviser with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, said in an email with the comment period now over for the Marcus Drive cannabis store, the AGCO will provide them with the comments, giving them five days to respond. A decision whether to allow the store to open will follow.
“Please note the AGCO will only licence operators and authorize stores once we are satisfied they have met all legal and regulatory requirements,” Kahnert said.
As far as meeting the April 1 deadline to open, he said there are 25 applications for stores currently at different stages of the process. As each reaches the public comments stage, the deadline for feedback will be amended.
“AGCO is making best efforts to process applications as quickly as possible so that licensees, if operationally ready, can open stores as early as possible in April,” Kahnert said. “That said, while the AGCO has dedicated resources working with each applicant, for our part, we will only licence operators and authorize stores once we are satisfied they have met all legal and regulatory requirements.”