Prospective cannabis entrepreneurs from across Canada are already lining up in front of City Hall for permits to sell pot in Red Deer.
Although applications for marijuana retail outlets won’t be accepted until Tuesday morning, applicants from Montreal and Windsor, Ont. have been staking out a spot on the sidewalk in front of City Hall since Thursday night and early Friday morning.
Since the city is only accepting applications for 30-35 local cannabis sales outlets on a first-come basis, the two applicants are determined to sit tight throughout the weekend so they don’t lose their spots at the head of the lineup.
Sam Katzman of Windsor was waiting under a large umbrella with his friend Ryan Wood. Since only B.C., Alberta and Manitoba are allowing private cannabis sales, Katzman said he researched communities across Western Canada and decided Red Deer was the best place to set up shop.
“I fell in love with Red Deer and I plan on moving here,” he said.
Katzman already has a “proposed cannabis outlet” sign displayed in a leased storefront at 5111-49th Street with the pending name Green Town. According to city rules, another cannabis outlet cannot be closer than 300 metres if his store application gets approved.
He said Red Deer reminds him of Windsor, even though the Ontario community is about double the size. The people he’s met here, so far, have been very friendly — even the city inspections manager came out to say ‘Hi’ and hand him a business card.
Katzman believes it’s “smart” of Alberta to allow cannabis to be sold by the private sector because landlords will get to lease some retail spaces, store operators will hire staff, which will boost the local employment rate, and “people like me plan to purchase a house here.”
While the applicant from Montreal wasn’t waiting in person late on Friday afternoon, he had three friends sitting in the line-up to hold his space.
Among them was Suzanne Hart, who moved to Red Deer from her native Nova Scotia, and believes sitting outdoors and doing nothing is a pleasant way to spend the day.
“We’re just counting the clouds,” added another friend from Red Deer, Mike Anderson.
“It’s a nice change from out every day busy-ness,” said Katzman, who has a van full of provisions parked nearby.
A city spokesperson said the applicants are permitted to sit outside on lawn chairs until Tuesday as long as they are not setting up tents.