Canadian Grocery Chain in Fifth Year of Lobbying for Expansion of Marijuana Sales

Loblaws, as it's commonly known, already has two dispensaries.

Canadian grocery store chain Loblaw Companies Ltd. has entered its fifth year of lobbying the provincial Ontario government, led by conservative Doug Ford, for widespread expansion of marijuana sales, ostensibly so the company can expand its own cannabis footprint.

Loblaws, as it’s commonly known, already has two dispensaries in the medical marijuana industry, but it’s been attempting for years now to change a rule that prohibits medical cannabis businesses from also selling recreational marijuana, Global News reported.

The grocery giant has more than 2,400 stores across Canada, according to the company website, and has held numerous meetings with representatives of the Ford government in Ontario since 2019, Global News reported, citing “internal government documents” obtained through freedom of information laws. Those meetings included representatives from the attorney general’s office.

Among Loblaws’ primary lobbying goals:

  • Repealing restrictions on cannabis sales at establishments that also sell food and snacks.
  • Allow “store within a store” models, similar to how some wine companies have pop-up locations within Loblaws grocery stores.
  • Repeal a ban on online retailers from selling cannabis goods.
  • Changing rules to allow medical cannabis dispensaries to also sell recreational marijuana.

Both of Loblaws’ dispensaries operate under the company’s “C-Shop” brand, with one in the Ottawa suburb of Embrun, Ontario, and another in North Bay, Ontario. The company has applied for “several” more dispensary locations, but has been stymied thus far in its attempts to enter the adult-use marijuana trade.

But the grocery giant’s attempts appear to be “ongoing,” Global News reported, and it may yet find a receptive ear within the Ford government, which has been sympathetic to large corporate business interests.

At least one Canadian cannabis company, High Tide, was excited about the prospect of Loblaws becoming a marijuana retailer.

“We welcome anyone who wants to enter the cannabis market — competition is good increased access to local stores is good,” Omar Khan, chief communications and public affairs officer for High Tide (Nasdaq: HITI) (TSXV: HITI) (FSE: 2LYA) told Global News.

John Schroyer

John Schroyer has been a reporter since 2006, initially with a focus on politics, and covered the 2012 Colorado campaign to legalize marijuana. He has written about the cannabis industry specifically since 2014, after being on hand for the first-ever legal cannabis sales on New Year’s Day that year in Denver. John has covered subsequent marijuana market launches in California and Illinois, has written about every aspect of the marijuana trade, and was part of the team that built the cannabis industry’s first-ever trade show, MJBizCon. He joined Green Market Report in 2022.

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