Aurora Cannabis — among the country’s largest producers of medical marijuana — is considering owning retail shops once the drug is legalized next summer, potentially posing a threat to mom-and-pop operations that are already angling to open storefronts.
Cam Battley, Aurora’s executive vice-president, said the $914-million company has “looked pretty darn closely” at opening brick-and-mortar cannabis stores, “market-by-market across the country.”
Aurora, along with other large federally licensed producers, could theoretically seize a considerable share of the retail market, if government permitted the move.
The company appears to have faced no problems raising money and owns two large grow facilities in Alberta, including a massive greenhouse under construction near Edmonton.
But Battley said smaller outfits looking to get into retail marijuana shouldn’t fret.
“If we want a system that is broadly accepted and embraced, and is sustainable, it’s important to carve out room for the little guy,” Battley said in an interview.
“Nobody needs to worry that we’re going to dominate the market. We’re not interested in being a monopoly. Monopolies are good for nobody.”
The federal Liberal government sparked a frenzy of speculation over what a future recreational cannabis market will look like in Canada after setting a July 1, 2018 target date for retail sales.
Much of the decision-making has been handed to the provinces, such as determining where it will be sold and consumed.
Alberta plans to release a draft framework for a retail cannabis market this fall after receiving 45,000 online submissions and meeting with more than 100 groups, including police, industry and Indigenous communities.