Nova Scotia will be opening six new cannabis stores in April and May, adding to the current 24 NSLC retail cannabis locations across the province.
In April, Berwick and Sydney Mines stores will begin cannabis sales, followed by Mahone Bay, and Bayer’s Lake and Novalea (both Halifax) in May.
The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, the Crown corporation which manages cannabis in the province, started off with 12 retail cannabis locations on October 17, 2018. In February 2020, plans for renovations to 14 new stores were announced. All but three of those have since opened. Three of the six new locations—Berwick, Mahone Bay, and Sydney Mines—are from last year’s announcement.
The province’s decision to open more stores last year was in part due to the low uptake in online sales compared to retail locations. Less than 1% of total NSLC sales for cannabis or alcohol were from online sales according to the NSLC’s most recent quarterly report.
“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, said Finance and Treasury Board Minister Karen Casey in a press release last year. “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.”
Nova Scotia has a population of just under a million, with about half in and around the capital of Halifax, served currently by seven stores (soon to be nine). Town’s like Berwick and Mahone Bay only have a population of a few thousand, while Sydney Mines on Cape Breton Island is about 15,000. All profits from the NSLC go back to the province.
Neighbouring PEI has 4 cannabis stores, while New Brunswick and Newfoundland have 20 and 30, respectively. Alberta recently surpassed 600 approved cannabis retail locations, the largest number in Canada so far, followed closely by Ontario with more than 550, currently.