Fourth cannabis distributor begins operations

Four months after the national legalization of cannabis, Meta Cannabis Supply has opened its ninth Manitoba retail outlet in Brandon.

Ontario-based National Access Cannabis (NAC) has opened its ninth Manitoba retail outlet under the META Cannabis Supply (META) banner in Brandon, ending a process that began more than a year ago.

Brandon’s META outlet, one of nine located throughout Manitoba, opened to the public on Jan. 30 at 930 18th Street. The store employs 15 people, similar to other retail locations in the province. The company also has stores in Portage la Prairie, The Pas, Thompson, Morden and Winnipeg, where there are four outlets. Four of the Manitoba operations are being operated in partnership with First Nations communities.

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NAC has a total of 23 stores currently operating at sites across Canada.

“We have a strategy to expand our territories and look at communities that fit our target market and are welcoming for recreational cannabis stores,” said Matt Ryan, vice president of marketing for NAC. “We do not focus solely on large, downtown cores and metropolitan areas. Brandon was a great fit for us and we look forward to serving customers there.”

Ryan said the process to get the stores established and running has been a “thoughtful” one. A number of factors have led to the delay in opening some stores, with Brandon’s coming on stream four months after cannabis was legalized across the country. Among the issues Ryan named were regulatory permitting, building and construction, licensing and a confidence that stock will be available for the shelves once the outlet is operating.

META is the fourth store announced for the city since legalization occurred on Oct. 17. Garden Variety recently announced it will open their location on 18th Street early this spring, while Tweed on Victoria Avenue and Tokyo Smoke on 18th Street began operating last November.

Ryan said META seeks to provide a comfortable shopping experience to their customers with knowledgeable staff and a welcoming in-store environment.

“We aim to make everyone feel comfortable and uplifted in our stores, which we deliver through our META design, our people and our vibe,” he said.

“NAC is larger by store count than any private or public cannabis retailer in Canada and with this comes great insight to the market, even in these early stages. We know the market and our customers quite well in this province already, and we are just getting started.”

As a municipality, Brandon has been welcoming to the new private cannabis retailing industry, which was also seen as an advantage to opening a location here.

“In Manitoba, NAC is proud of our progress to date, with nine META stores across a mix of urban, First Nation and other areas and with five more set to open by the end of the second quarter of 2019,” he said.

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