Calgary is aiming to give local cannabis retailers an extension after a shortage this past fall caused one of the largest cities in Canada to put a temporary stop to granting permits.

The following is a re-post of an article written by Ryan Rumbolt of the Calgary Herald

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The city hopes to give more than 100 would-be Calgary cannabis retailers an extension on opening their doors after the province’s marijuana supply issues ground licence approvals to a halt last fall.

Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis put a moratorium on cannabis store applications in November due to nationwide supply shortages of cannabis a little over a month after recreational pot became legal in October.

Applicants need a city-approved change of land use development permit before applying for a provincial licence, but those development permits also require a retailer to open for business within a year of approval.

Some stores, with no stock to sell, have not opened and despite the province green lighting 10 additional stores in January, shortages expected to last 18 months have led the city to consider extending the one-year development window to three years so businesses don’t default on their permits.

A city committee will consider the extension on Tuesday or risk 132 approved storefronts running out their permits.

Coun. Ward Sutherland said those extensions would come at zero cost to the applicant.

“Having the renewals at no charge is a no-brainer,” Sutherland said, adding the city has in the past granted extensions to building developers hit hard by the economic downturn.

But the province’s pause on pot permissions has Coun. Jyoti Gondek concerned about what granting free extensions will cost the city.

“What has been the implication on our resources to go through this? Because every time we expend energy and resources on this particular item, it is taking a toll on our budget and I don’t know that we’re being compensated properly,” Gondek said.

Numbers from the city show there were 409 development permit applications for cannabis stores as of Jan. 29. Of those permits 156 were approved, 91 were refused, 64 were under review and another 98 were cancelled.

The city has awarded business licences to 35 stores and another 78 are pending. Of those, only 24 have opened in Calgary.

Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said granting the extensions is “just housekeeping” on a file that’s become a “much more fraught and difficult regulatory project than (council) thought it would be.”

He said legalizing cannabis has proved to be “less of societal shift” than expected, adding the permit issue is only a speed bump on the road to getting Calgary’s cannabis marketplace up and running.

But Gondek said granting the extensions means the city is “spending more money trying to fix a problem that’s not even ours, and we’re not getting our fair share of the revenue in the first place.”

“Through no fault of business and through no fault of the municipality, we’re now at a time, again, where we have to change the way we operate to make sure we’re providing equitable service to our clients,” Gondek said.

Data released by Statistics Canada in January showed Alberta accounted for more than a third of the country’s legal pot shops.

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