Quebec’s Government-Run Cannabis Stores

Jun 29, 2018

Although there is no official date set for the legalization of cannabis, Alain Brunet, CEO of Quebec’s liquor board, has said whenever the time comes, the SAQ will be ready to serve Quebec consumers both in store and online.

While the Société des Alcools du Québec (SAQ) will oversee the sale and distribution of cannabis throughout the province, the Société Québécoise du Cannabis has been independently tasked with the responsibility of sales.

Currently, the SAQ is finding locations for stores, as certain restrictions prevent them from being within 250 metres from elementary or high schools, and plans to begin recruiting employees soon. In a recent interview with Radio-Canada, Brunet spoke about the details of what Quebec’s government-run cannabis stores will look like, and how they will be run.

When asked what the stores’ appearance will be, Brunet said they will be approximately two thousand square feet, in a “boutique style,” with three sections, including a vestibule where visitors will be welcomed and checked for ID, an area in which customers can seek advice, education, and information about the technical aspects of cannabis consumption, and a counter service that will be run face to face for personal transactions.

Regarding employee training, Brunet said that each store will have full and part-time workers, approximately fifteen per store. Because cannabis storefronts are overseen by the Ministry of Health, there will be an emphasis on healthy consumption of cannabis in each store, and the ethics of selling the drug will be adhered to, like refraining from selling to a minor.

The SAQ will be looking for employees with clean records, and each person hired will have to present clear background checks with the Sûreté du Québec.

Potential employees will also be required to take a safety aptitude test and prove that they are comfortable with the product, customer service, and have an understanding of all aspects of cannabis, including its technical use.

Working conditions in cannabis retail locations in Quebec will be different from those in the SAQ, as the sale and distribution of cannabis will be independent, with its own management and administrative council. SAQ employees are welcome to work in the new cannabis stores, but it will be like resigning and moving to an independent company rather than an internal transfer.

Brunet has stated that the SAQ is already experienced with managing security threats during deliveries of product and home deliveries, but that the delivery of cannabis will fall under even stricter measures. Currently, Canada Post transports all retail materials for the SAQ, and home deliveries have been provided since 2000. Packages are never left at front doors of consumers, and they must be received and signed for by someone of legal age.

The SAQ plans to open twenty stores over the course of 2018, with a planned fifty or sixty running in a year from official legalization, and will to triple that number over the span of two to three years. The website will be operational as soon as cannabis is legalized, and transactions and home delivery will be available immediately.