Business licences for cannabis retail stores in Edmonton have been declining since hitting a recent high point in April, according to the city's open data catalogue.
April saw 22 business licences issued for cannabis shops in Edmonton. That was the highest number since August 2020, which is as far back as the available data goes. But the downward trend since then could reverse itself in the near future now that city council has voted to cut the licensing fees for retail cannabis stores by almost 90% to bring them in line with the price paid by other types of businesses.
The changes, which drop the fees for pot shops from $2,500 to $255, take effect in January.
The higher costs, according to the city, came from the fact that the licensing process for cannabis stores was more complex after legalization in October of 2018. Businesses required more hands-on guidance from the city to navigate the process, which led to higher costs.
In recent years, some of the rules placed on cannabis retail have loosened, and dedicated services for new stores are no longer needed. City administration hopes that bringing down the cost of licences for legal shops will reduce the number of black-market sales in the city.
Albertans have some of the easiest access to cannabis shops in the country, with 14.3 stores for every 100,000 people, a number that is matched only by Yukon. Edmonton's metropolitan area topped all other Canadian cities for legal cannabis sales per capita last year, with spending at about $129 per person.