Calgary Co-op ventures into cannabis market

Last year Canada became the second country in the world to legalise the drug

After Canada legalised recreational cannabis last October, businesses are looking to enter the market – including Co-op Calgary, which has already opened its first marijuana outlet.

The 1,400 sq. ft. store offers cannabis flowers, pre-rolls, oils and accessories. The co-op has also launched an online portal – Co-op Cannabis – where customers can ask questions and learn more about cannabis.

“We’re officially open for business,” said Jim Riege, senior director, cannabis.  “Our Macleod Trail store is stocked with an array of cannabis products and our team is looking forward to sharing their expertise, and educating members on the varieties available.”

The shop provides products to members and customers, be they first-time buyers to those more familiar with the product.

“Our team has knowledge on the strains of cannabis and the responsible use of these products,” said Mr Riege. “We will invest time with our members to educate them on the varieties and the accessories available.”

Set up in 1956, Calgary Co-op is owned 440,000 members, and it hopes its new venture will become one of the largest cannabis retail co-operatives in Canada.

“As part of the community since 1956, we care deeply about being Calgary’s best and most trusted place to shop for food, wine, fuel and more – and Co-op Cannabis is dedicated to providing a similar exceptional shopping experience,” said Jeff Ambrose, vice president, operations, petroleum, wines spirits beer, cannabis and home health care.

“We encourage members who are curious about the offering and the responsible use of these products, to visit our store. It’s a safe and welcoming environment and our team is available to answer questions.”

The legalisation allows farmers to cultivate cannabis. They are also eligible for federal funding that supports innovation and sustainability efforts in agriculture. The move prompted criticism from some activist groups such as Citizens Protecting Agricultural land, who are worried that food farmers may be tempted to shift to cannabis cultivation.

Canada is the second country in the world to legalise cannabis, after Uruguay. The Netherlands and Portugal have decriminalised the drug.

According to Statistics Canada, Canadians spent over CA $5bn (£2.93bn) on cannabis in 2017.