Green Rush: The Race to Sell Cannabis in Canada

Article by Marina Strauss and Christina Pellegrini, The Globe and Mail

Green rush: The race to sell cannabis in Canada As legalization nears in October, the spotlight is shifting from marijuana growers to sellers, igniting frenetic activity among prospective store owners, commercial real estate players, cannabis producers and all levels of government MARINA STRAUSS AND CHRISTINA PELLEGRINI Left to right: Aaron Nathaniel Serruya, Samuel Serruya, Sammy Serruya, Michael Serruya, Simon Serruya and Aaron Serruya, pose for a picture at their offices in Markham, Ont., on Aug. 10, 2018. MARK BLINCH

In Spruce Grove, Alta., people camped out by city hall, waiting for the doors to open so they could apply to open a cannabis store.
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In other places in the province, retailers are signing leases with rents that are as much as twice the usual rate, in the hope they will eventually win the right to sell marijuana in those locations.
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In Ontario, veteran retailer Michael Serruya says he has identified 27 future locations for cannabis shops – even though the province’s new government hasn’t officially said whether it will allow a single privately owned store to sell recreational marijuana.
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It’s the next wave of the green rush: As legalization nears in October, the spotlight is shifting from marijuana growers to sellers. That has ignited frenetic activity among prospective store owners, commercial real estate players, cannabis producers and the federal, provincial and municipal governments that have designed a thicket of rules about how and when the drug can be sold to consumers.
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It is taking entrepreneurs like Mr. Serruya to places like West Hollywood, Calif., where he recently went for a lesson in how to sell cannabis.
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In a store on Santa Monica Boulevard, Mr. Serruya found what he was looking for. Surrounded by slick wood furnishings, security guards watch over crowds of consumers hovering over display tables as they inspect and sniff encased samples. It’s a sleek retail operation that has the high-end feel of an Apple store – only instead of the latest tech gadgets, people line up here to buy a US$20 brownie or an eighth of an ounce of dried flower for US$60.

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