Estevan city council has decided to begin the process of bringing a second cannabis retailer to the city.
Council approved a request during Monday night’s meeting to have the second retailer. The Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority still has to approve the request.
Estevan was originally allocated two cannabis retailer permits by the provincial government last year, but council decided the city should have just one retailer initially, after a recommendation from Estevan Police Chief Paul Ladouceur and the Estevan board of police commissioners.
Mayor Roy Ludwig said city council now feels comfortable with having the second retailer.
Ladouceur said he still believes it was the right decision to go with one vendor instead of two, because legalization was new to everyone and there were a lot of unanswered questions.
“There have been no problems brought to our attention, as a police service, with regards to the current cannabis shop,” said Ladouceur. “In fact, we’re quite surprised that there’s been no complaints.”
Ludwig echoed Ladouceur’s beliefs that it was the right move to have one retailer.
Councillor Travis Frank said he was surprised at how seamless it was to have a cannabis shop in the community. But he also wanted to know if legalization has caused problems for the police service.
Ladouceur said he believes there is just one provincial cannabis-related offence before the courts, and that was for a youth who was in possession of the drug.
But he also stressed that it’s too soon to gage the impact of legalized cannabis from a policing perspective. He says more time will be needed to evaluate how many marijuana-related calls they have received.
“We’re still working out some kinks with how we go about prosecuting those types of offences, whether our own office will prosecute or whether the province will look after prosecuting. Obviously our preference is that the province should be prosecuting these offences.”
There also hasn’t been a large increase in the number of cases of impaired driving by drug. But Ladouceur still anticipates there will be a jump eventually.
Ludwig said there is some confusion regarding the next step in securing a second vendor, because the way in which the lottery was conducted last year to award the first batch of cannabis permits likely won’t be repeated.
Estevan wasn’t the only community in the province to opt against having its full quota of permits.
“My understanding is they’re not going to do it the same way (they did) initially,” said Ludwig.
The mayor is confident that Estevan will be awarded a second retailer.
“It’s my understanding that those two spots are still there. We just told them at the time that we wanted to take one and give us the opportunity with our police to monitor, and see what we would have for issues, for problems, before we jumped in and had two right away,” said Ludwig.
Prairie Sky Cannabis was the winner of the lottery to have Estevan’s cannabis permit last year. The Estevan store opened late last year under the name of Jimmy’s Cannabis Shop, about two months after cannabis was legalized in Canada. The store is located in a strip mall off of Kensington Avenue.
The delay in opening occurred because Prairie Sky Cannabis had to secure enough inventory for the store. It’s an issue that has faced many retailers.
Prairie Sky Cannabis has since been sold to Fire & Flower.