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NSLC to expand cannabis sales to 14 more stores across Nova Scotia

A contractor photographs the signage that his crew had just installed at the NSLC Cannabis outlet on Clyde Street in Halifax on Oct 1.
A contractor photographs the signage that his crew had just installed at the NSLC Cannabis outlet on Clyde Street in Halifax on Oct 1, 2019. - Tim Krochak

The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation is more than doubling the number of its stores that sell cannabis products to try to fill in geographical gaps and combat continued illegal sales of the drug.

The province said Friday that 14 stores will be renovated to start selling cannabis products, with some locations ready by this fall and all by the end of March 2021.

Finance and Treasury Board Minister Karen Casey said in a release that the province has always wanted to move slowly and be socially responsible with making cannabis available to consumers.

"We have recognized that online sales so far have not addressed areas of the province where there was a gap and it is apparent that new customers want the in-store experience,” Casey said. “We feel that opening more stores is the most effective way to deal with the illicit market, protect our children and keep communities safe."

Recent NSLC research showed that one of the reasons customers are buying from the illicit market is because there is no cannabis store in their area.

NSLC spokeswoman Bev Ware said there are no immediate plans to add more stores beyond the 14.

"We're more than doubling the network, which is a major initiative for us to undertake and we need to do this in a fiscally responsible way,” Ware said. “This is the plan we have in place for now.”

She said online sales only account for about one per cent of the NSLC's cannabis purchases, “so clearly (customers) want that in-store experience. It's far to soon to say what may happen down the road because we need to have that established sales history in the 26 stores that we'll have in place.”

The NSLC's research show's that cannabis customers, especially first-time users, want to buy in store.

"They like to have that conversation with our employees, they may have lots of questions, or be just looking to chat and get more information and see the products.”

Ware said there are no plans to expand cannabis sales to agency stores, those in rural areas that are set up in places such as grocery stores.

That's not something that's being explored at this point, but it's very early in the industry and we're taking a cautious approach,” she said.

The 14 outlets are in Annapolis Royal, Baddeck, Barrington Passage, Berwick, Elmsdale, Glace Bay, Liverpool, Mahone Bay, Bedford (Mill Cove), Port Hawkesbury, Sydney Mines, Dartmouth (Tacoma Drive), Tantallon and Tatamagouche. They were chosen based on geographic location, available space and the ability to be renovated cost-effectively.

Twelve outlets across the province already sell cannabis. 

The new outlets will range in size from 200 square feet for the smaller stores to 400 square feet for the larger stores. Tantallon is the largest with a 1,000-square-foot store.

More to come

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