The Manitoba government announced today they are beginning to evaluate the more than 100 applications they have received to operate private retail cannabis stores in the province.
Manitoba's Growth, Enterprise and Trade Minister Blaine Pedersen made the announced today, stating that they expect to notify successful applicants by February, with a goal of having a legal cannabis regime in place by July 2, 2018.
“Our hybrid distribution and retail model includes safeguards and responsible measures that will help keep cannabis out of the hands of our youth and away from the black market,” said Pedersen. “While the public sector has a very important role to play in providing oversight and ensuring the integrity of the system, there is also a significant role here for the private sector in operating all cannabis retail locations.”
Manitoba announced their plans for a public/private model for cannabis distribution and sales on November 7, as well as their request for proposals (RFPs). The Premier said at the time that the province intends to take over 50% of the black market in the first year of legalization. The province will accept offers from up to four applications, approving at least one store each.
Their model will see the Liquor and Gaming Authority (LGA) given an expanded mandate to regulate the purchase, storage, distribution and retail of cannabis. The Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation (MBLL) will secure and track supply of cannabis sold in Manitoba, while the private sector will operate all retail locations.
“Provincial officials will be evaluating applications based on the established criteria in the RFP and an independent fairness monitor has been appointed to ensure the integrity of the process,” said Pedersen in today's release. “We remain committed to establishing a highly competitive retail environment that creates new economic opportunities at the community level.”
Provincial regulation of wholesaling, distribution and retail will be through LGA, and a regulatory framework and licensing regime is in development.
MBLL will be responsible for central administration, supply chain management and order processing. The Crown corporation will oversee the wholesale and distribution of product including leveraging economies of scale through bulk purchasing to undercut black-market pricing and supporting a diverse retail sector.
All cannabis sold in retail stores must be purchased from MBLL, which will source product from federally licensed producers. Safe storage and shipment of product will be managed through either MBLL-owned and operated facilities and/or contracted third parties licensed through the LGA.