Three more pot stores have received a go-ahead in Medicine Hat, thus bringing the total amount of licensed retail outlets to six. Four out of these 6 stores are located on or near a six-block stretch of S. Railway Street.
The stores can open as soon as early May, nearly six months after the first stores were approved.
Around 20 prospective operators had applied for local permits, but the lack of supply halted the allotment of new licenses.
Many applicants have rented space since the summer, and have completed renovations and mandatory security upgrades that are a precondition to securing a license.
“It has been quite stressful to have all this overhead, no income and no timeline on application approvals,” said Pam Carriere, a representative for ‘The Leaf’ at 699 Kingsway Ave.
Hat Cannabis, Inc., another license holder, will begin its operations at 646 S. Railway, a former stereo shop, located at the intersection with Kingsway Avenue.
The issuance of new licenses also points to the fact that the sector is concentrating somewhat in the center of the city.
“It’s an issue with the zoning. There are 5 zones and only so many buildings that are appropriate,” said Rebekka Leidl, a spokesperson for Hat Cannabis Inc.
Zoning regulations, which determined the location of cannabis stores, were approved last summer. It included distances from schools and health-care facilities, but with no restriction for distances from other such retailers.
Notably, two existing locations on the S. Railway were in operation on Oct. 16 – the day the prohibition on recreational marijuana-use was lifted.
“We were very close when they put the break on new licenses last fall, and we were highly disappointed,” said Leidl to a leading news daily.