Following their launch on Dec. 12, Meta Cannabis Supply became the sole cannabis retailer to set up shop in Thompson since the federal government officially legalized marijuana in October.
The store won’t have any local competition until at least February, since two other cannabis dealers that are interested in the Thompson market – Delta 9 and Garden Variety – still haven’t nailed down precise locations or dates for their respective grand openings.
A representative from Garden Variety told the Thompson Citizen last summer that the company is looking to set up in a “shopping centre” in the Hub of the North by end of the first quarter of 2019.
There has been no substantive update since then.
Meanwhile, Gary Symons, director of communications for Delta 9, recently said the company will have to move its grand opening to sometime in February or March at the earliest, despite originally forecasting a 2018 ribbon cutting ceremony for this past summer.
The company is using this extra time to find the right property for their store.
Delta 9 originally announced that their store would be in the City Centre Mall, but Symons could not confirm their location before Jan. 30.
Symons said he’s heard nothing but positive things about the prospect of cannabis stores coming to Thompson, which is a change of pace from the response Delta 9 has gotten after opening other retail outlets in some other communities.
“In Winkler ... some people just don’t like the idea of selling cannabis in Manitoba at all, but we haven’t had that out of Brandon or Thompson in any way, shape or form,” he said Nov. 23. “People have been just saying, ‘We can’t wait until you’re here.’”
For residents who still aren’t convinced that cannabis retailers will have a positive effect on Thompson and the surrounding communities, Symons made the point that marijuana will be circulating in the north whether it’s legal or not.
“The difference is that it’s much safer for people if it’s not in the hands of a criminal element,” he said. “It generates taxes and jobs, so overall I think it will overwhelmingly positive.”
While Symons remains optimistic about the future, he concedes that Delta 9 could suffer from an inventory shortage. Cannabis shops throughout Canada have been hampered by a widespread scarcity of product since legalization took full effect Oct. 17.
“There’s no question that we don’t have as much product as we would like,” said Symons. “The more stores we open, the more product that we’re going to need, so if we run out of product it could cause delays in opening the store, because we don’t want to have stores that are empty.”
As of this month, cannabis retailers throughout Manitoba also have to contend with a new six per cent “social costs” tax, which the provincial government put in place to ensure that these businesses help cover expenses for public education, safety, health and addictions.