(Last Updated On: April 21, 2018)When the call for applications for the cannabis retailer permits throughout the province of Saskatchewan was closed on April 10, 2018, the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming (SLGA) had received 1,502 applications for the 51 retail cannabis permits available in 32 communities. The Town of Nipawin, had one retailer permit available and SLGA received 26 applications through the tender process facilitated through the SaskTender website. “Interest in the cannabis retail sector was very strong,” Makowsky said. “The evaluation process is now underway and submissions that meet the requirements will be randomly selected for permits. We expect to announce the successful cannabis retail permittees in the coming weeks prior to federal legalization.” Tisdale and Melfort each had one single permit and received the same level of interest with 26 applicants for each of their permits. Each applicant paid a $1,000 non-refundable fee as part of the application process, creating revenue of just over $1.5 million in the process so far. The winning applicant will pay annual permit and license fees. ($5,000 for retail permits in cities and $3,500 for towns). The initial allocation of retail store permits was allotted in 40 municipalities and First Nations with populations of at least 2,500, with larger communities being allocated additional permits. Eligible First Nations and municipalities had the option to opt out of having a retail cannabis store in their community if they choose. The final number of retail permits was determined by the number of community leaders that decide to opt out. Eight communities opted out of the retailer permit including Biggar, Kindersley, Lac La Ronge Indian Band, Onion Lake Cree Nation, Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation, Pilot Butte, Shellbrook and White City. The City of Estevan opted to only allow one of their two potential permits. Both wholesaling and retailing of cannabis will be conducted by the private sector and regulated by SLGA. Cannabis retailers will be required to establish a standalone storefront operation, with the option to also operate an online store. Stores will be limited to selling cannabis, cannabis accessories and ancillary items. Stores must also have the ability to track and report cannabis inventory to help ensure consumers only have access to safe, legal product from regulated wholesalers. An independent third party will be engaged to assist SLGA with selecting retail operators using a two-phase process. The first phase will be initial screening for financial capacity and the ability for proponents to track and report inventory. Phase two will be a random selection (lottery) of the qualified applicants. Successful proponents will be required to meet ‘good character’ criteria as part of the permitting process. As part of an ongoing process, the Government of Saskatchewan will assess the effectiveness of the initial allocation and may allocate additional opportunities approximately 12-18 months after legalization. In previous announcements, the province made it clear that any business selling marijuana without a permit would be subject to fines of up to $100,000 per day and a six-month prison sentence.