Prospective cannabis retailers in Sylvan Lake may have to fork out much more for licences than other businesses.
While a typical business must pay $150 for a one-year business licence, town council has proposed an $850 administrative licence be required for cannabis retailers as well as the annual $150 operational licence.
The proposal, which has not been approved by council yet, arose when council met as a committee Tuesday to debate how to handle cannabis business applications once recreational marijuana becomes legal in October.
Municipalities across Alberta have been scrambling to tweak their bylaws and other rules and regulations in anticipation of an influx of cannabis producers and retailers.
Among the issues up for discussion when Sylvan Lake’s council met as a committee was whether cannabis retailers should be treated the same as another merchant.
The consensus was they should not.
Concern was also raised about an Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) requirement that cannabis businesses seeking approval be required to show they had a municipal business licence. That would mean the town would have to approve a licence for a business that had not yet received provincial approval.
As a compromise, council opted to require cannabis businesses to pay an $850 administrative licence that could be used to satisfy the AGLC’s requirement.
If provincial approval was granted, the cannabis retailers must pay for a $150 operational licence, which must be renewed annually.
Town communications officer Joanne Gaudet said the rationale for the higher licence is cannabis licence applications could take more administration time and cannabis businesses may require more oversight.
“There is an unknown because we’re all waiting for this approval through the AGLC,” said Gaudet.
Other municipalities have taken a similar approach and have higher licence fees for cannabis-related businesses. In Camrose, a licence will cost $1,200, in Edmonton $2,500, and in Lloydminster a cannabis licence fee will cost $1,500 on top of the usual licence fee.
Other municipalities plan to charge the same business licence fee to cannabis retailers as they would any other retailer.
“It’s so across the board because (municipalities) have all been left to our own devices,” said Gaudet.