City might give permit extensions for would-be cannabis retailers snagged by moratorium

Calgary eyes extension for 100+ unopened cannabis stores whose permits could lapse as they wait for product

The City of Calgary is looking at taking steps to help applicants who are approved to open cannabis stores — but can't because of a provincial moratorium.

The development permits for the approved stores expire a year after they're granted if shop owners don't actually open their doors.

With 24 shops open, Calgary has more cannabis stores than any other city in Canada. In fact, eight provinces have fewer stores than there are in Calgary.

An additional 16 applicants have been approved, but they can't open until the moratorium is lifted.

A month after legalization, Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) announced it had received only 20 per cent of the cannabis ordered to supply 250 stores for six months.

There has been a shortage across Canada ever since, and in response, Alberta capped retail stores in November.

AGLC says it's in talks with another 12 licensed cannabis producers in order to secure more product.

Matt Zabloski, the city's cannabis legalization project lead, says development permits for many approved stores will start to expire in July if their doors don't open.

He says the planning department will soon ask city council to extend the permits.

"There is certainly the potential should council not approve the amendments that the development permits could expire and require a re-application," he said.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says with another 127 potential cannabis stores already granted permits, it's a shame the province's moratorium remains in place.

"The first 24 who got in kind of won the lottery because there was then a moratorium on other stores," he said.

"That said, we've taken a very free market approach to this and I anticipate the market will sort itself."