Recreational Marijuana Retailers

How To Become a Trusted Partner

Provinces need retailers with a large enough footprint to contest illegal stores and become trusted partners in the sale of recreational cannabis, according to Darrell Dexter, VP Global Public Affairs, who spoke at the BC Liquor Conference this week. Dexter says, there is “still considerable concern as politicians take on this new political risk.”

Liquor stores are well suited to deal with the cannabis industry since they already deal with regulatory requirements and have the ability to deal with compliance issues.

Curtis Robinson, Chair of Bar Watch Vancouver and a retired police officer, confidently reported at the conference that organized crime has been embedded in the illegal marijuana dispensaries for many years. Robinson stated, “Reputable dealers are paramount for the industry.”

George Robinson, CEO of RavenQuest BioMed and a consultant in the cannabis sector, remarked that education and awareness will be the key issue in setting up a retail system. He says, “Education is a wedge issue with regulators.” Liquor retailers need to make a commitment to regulators that their staff will be educated. He also suggests that retailers “set a sophisticated retail experience for customers.”

However, there will be a “deep and steep learning curve for both licensed producers and retailers,” cautions Dan Sutton, Founder and Managing Director of Tantalus Labs, as they embark on this new distribution and retailing model. Tantalus wants to deal with partners who will sell based on the botanical nuances and biochemistry of products, and in a market where demand will be far surpassing supply the most educated retailers will be selected to partner with licensed producers (LPs).

Brue Linton, Chairman and CEO of Canopy Growth, who spoke at the Alberta Liquor Industry Conference, concurred that retailers will need to know how various strengths of cannabis products will meet customers’ various needs. They need to build an expectation of the high that a customer will get from a product and also educate them on using alcohol and cannabis together.

“Protect public health, safety and youth,” advises Cam Battley, Executive VP at Aurora Cannabis, who presented at a recent seminar on Legalizing Cannabis. The development of professional standards for the industry will be essential.

Retailers have already been signing non-binding supply agreements with LPs and New Brunswick has created a Crown Corporation to set up supply agreements, so don’t delay if you want to get into the market.