Mahone Bay and Liverpool are among the locations for 12 new Nova Scotia Liquor Corp. (NSLC) cannabis outlets, Finance and Treasury Board Minister Karen Casey announced on February 14.
The provincial department said the new stories will address geographical gaps and help fight the sale of illegal marijuana in Nova Scotia.
Some of the new locations will be ready this fall, and all stores will be completed by the end of the next fiscal year.
"We have said all along that we will move slowly and safely and need to be socially responsible and we are ready to take the next step," Casey said in a release.
"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. 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.
In September 2019, statistics from the NSLC showed that residents of Queens have proven diffident when it comes to the purchase of recreational marijuana from official outlets,.
At only 17 per cent, Queens County posted some of the lowest number for purchasers for legal cannabis from NSLC, according the liquor corporations's research.
Beverley Ware, communications advisor for the NSLC, told LighthouseNOW last year that while only 17 per cent purchased recreational marijuana from the NSLC, when sales figures took into account purchases from both the liquor corporation and illegal sources, the number of purchasers in Queens shot up to 71 per cent.
"It will be a case of decreasing visits to illegal dealers," said Ware, who noted that the initial pricing and poor supply of legal marijuana is what may have steered Queens County residents to pursue other options for purchase. As well, the nearest store for Queens residents is one county over in Bridgewater.
In general the research found that a quarter of adult Nova Scotians have bought cannabis for recreational and/or medical purposes. The survey also found that the key reasons customers purchase from the illicit market are price, product quality and selection and convenient access.
Besides the Mahone Bay and Liverpool outlets, new cannabis stores will be located in Annapolis Royal, Baddeck, Barrington Passage, Berwick, Elmsdale, Glace Bay, Bedford (Mill Cove), Port Hawkesbury, Sydney Mines, Dartmouth (Tacoma Drive), Tantallon and Tatamagouche.
A request for proposals is expected to be issued in April.
The addition of 14 new outlets will result in a total of 26 NSLC cannabis stores across Nova Scotia
The selected stores were based on their geographic location, space to accommodate a cannabis store and the ability to renovate the stores cost effectively. 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, which will have a 1,000 square foot store.