With Ontario and New Brunswick having already announced plans for selling recreational cannabis in July 2018, prospective stakeholders in Canada’s remaining provinces are eyeing potential entry points. Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc., a Canadian convenience store operator, is one such prospective market entrant who wants to sell cannabis in Quebec.
“We view ourselves as serving the communities very well and we have a lot of skills at selling age-restricted products — being in most markets beer and in most markets tobacco,” said Brian Hannasch, CEO of Couche-Tard, following the company’s annual meeting in Quebec on Sept. 19, 2017, as reported by Montreal Gazette. “So to the extent society needs us to provide that service, we think we’d be wanting to do it with the right regulations in place, with the right expectations.”
Since the Liquor Control Board of Ontario plans to run one online store and 150 stand-alone cannabis stores in the province by 2020 and New Brunswick plans to sell cannabis through a provincial crown corporation, Couche-Tard has expressed interest in selling cannabis in Quebec, where the company is headquartered.
While Couche-Tard is interested in selling cannabis in Quebec, it’s unclear as to whether the province is even considering working with the company. According to CBC, Couche-Tard hired a lobbyist to discuss the company’s interests with Quebec, but hasn’t heard back from the provincial government.
“They do not even want to talk to us, so I think it is a shame,” said Alain Bouchard, executive chairman of Couche-Tard. “We have the ability to sell this product while meeting all government requirements (and) we can train our staff on verifying the identity of all consumers, regardless of their age.”