Cannabis producers form co-op for ‘socially responsible’ retailing

As the government of Alberta implements a plan to legalise the sale of cannabis, a group of producers come together as a co-op

Twelve licensed producers of medical cannabis in Canada have announced the creation of the Canadian Cannabis Co-op.

The co-op has said it will make a significant investment in Alberta to create a “retail solution to address the challenges of safe, regulated supply and socially responsible cannabis retailing”.

This commitment comes after the government of Alberta introduced legislation to legalise cannabis by July 2018 and launched a framework to manage the distribution and sale of the drug.

A statement from the group said: “We commend the province for expanding consultations with residents of Alberta – this is a responsible approach that will ensure the province gets the retail model right.

“As representatives of key licensed producers in Canada, we believe that all provinces and territories would benefit from a private, heavily regulated, retail model that allows cannabis consumers to make informed decisions on the products they wish to purchase with a high level of variety, sold by well-trained and educated staff.”

Darren Karasiuk, chair of the co-op’s working group, said: “The co-op is encouraged to hear of Alberta’s expanded consultation on recreational cannabis retailing as it provides us with a forum to speaking with Albertans and their elected officials about the Co-op and how it can exist alongside other private sector or Crown efforts that may be under consideration. We believe that private and independent retailers, like the Canadian Cannabis Co-op, is a model that serves the best interest of Albertans.”

The co-op said it was driven by a shared understanding that licensed producers have unparalleled experience in the cannabis industry, access to the resources required to execute a retail strategy and a collective desire to positively help shape a production, distribution and retail model that is purpose-built for Alberta.

It added that its vision is to act as just one of many private retail channels which will serve the needs of Albertans, alongside other independent, yet heavily regulated options.

Related: Coop Switzerland sells world’s first tobacco and hemp cigarette

The co-op – both a bricks and mortar retail presence and a secure e-commerce platform – added that Alberta could benefit from the direct investment of tens of millions of dollars in infrastructure, the creation of over 500 near-term jobs providing over CAD $30m in wages, and a significant dividend to the province.

“We believe the co-op model is a win for the government, the taxpayer and the consumer. It requires no taxpayer dollars, creates hundreds of direct jobs, generates a revenue stream for government above direct taxation and can be put in place by 1 July 2018 ensuring Albertans have access to safe, regulated cannabis from a diverse group of companies,” said Mr Karasiuk.

“Alberta is the perfect place to launch the Canadian Cannabis Co-op. which we believe will be an example that other provinces follow as we move closer to legalisation.”

Current membership of co-op includes representation from both large and craft producers, and other licensed producers have the option to join. Members include ABCann, Aphria, Bonify, CannTrust, Cronos Group, Emblem, Emerald, Hydropothecary, MedReleaf, Newstrike (Parent Company of Up Cannabis), Organigram, and Tilray.

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