The Société Québécois du Cannabis (SQDC) plans to double its number of stores by March, according to Jean-François Bergeron.
Speaking at a luncheon organized by the Montreal Chamber of Commerce, the SQDC’s president and director said that 20 new stores will open during the next six months, bringing the total number of Quebec outlets to 43.
(There are currently 21 outlets in the province, including one recently opened in Châteauguay.)
The news came about a week before the one-year anniversary of the legalization of cannabis in Canada, on Oct. 17.
After getting off to a rough start because of supply problems — which forced the SQDC to cut operating hours to a few days per week through the month of May — things are looking up.
The SQDC has executed more than 4 million transactions since its launch, according to Bergeron. That comes out to two sales per minute, with rush-hour peaks of up to six per minute.
The SQDC sold 27 tonnes of marijuana during the last 12 months, equal to 60 full containers, “and that’s just the beginning,” he promised.
Bergeron foresees the SQDC posting a profit of $20 million for its current financial year, which ends March 31.
“All this while migrating (a business) from the black market,” he said, “promoting prevention and offering advice (to buyers). In our first year, the foundation is already solid.
“Whether you’re for or against cannabis, the mission of the SQDC is pertinent.”
Bergeron highlighted that his organization had a lot of obstacles to overcome. At the top of the list was the ambiguity of its position, selling a product that until recently was illegal and brought with it discomfort in terms of its social acceptability.
“Who in the room has consumed cannabis in the past year?” he asked. Scattered hands went up.
“It’s not an easy thing to divulge; but that’s normal,” he mused.
“The SQDC has had to deal with that unease since it was given the mandate to create a government-owned business.”
But cannabis is consumed all over the world, he noted, adding that approximately 15 per cent of the Canadian population partakes. Some 150 tons of cannabis are consumed annually in Quebec, and until last year all of it was sold on the black market, “in dubious conditions, with product often containing contaminants, by sellers who frequently offer other products and services.”
Bergeron described the SQDC’s clientele as “Monsieur et Madame Tout-le-monde,” noting that customers are drawn by the opportunity to buy cannabis products legally, in a controlled and secure environment.
“It’s the preferred consumer option,” he said.