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Young entrepreneur wins recreational pot sales license

A young entrepreneur in Saskatchewan is set to enter the recreational pot industry, after she won a license through the province’s lottery system. The National introduces you to Cierra Sieben-Chuback, who says the permit offer is like ‘my birthday on steroids.’

Video source CBC News: The National

Saskatchewan cannabis retailer licensees excited to get business going.

Cierra Sieben-Chuback knew winning the lottery was a long shot, but couldn’t stop thinking about the possibilities for the business she plans to call Living Skies Cannabis.


Cierra Sieben-Chuback is well-versed in cannabis, and brings a different perspective to the Saskatoon store she plans to open.

A 23-year-old who is about to graduate from the University of Saskatchewan, Sieben-Chuback said she became interested in cannabis two years ago, after being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and recoiling against the steady stream of prescription medication.

She wrote her business plan for one of her business school classes and drove “like a madman” to Regina to file her permit application hours before the deadline in April.

Of 1,502 applications across the province, the government shortlisted 1,327.

Sieben-Chuback knew winning the lottery was a long shot, but said she couldn’t stop thinking about the possibilities for the business she plans to call Living Skies Cannabis.

“I tried to think outside the box about what else I could do with my life, but nothing else would come to me. I was so focused on this, and only this — I think that was kind of for a reason.”

Asked if she is concerned about competing against established businesses with deep pockets, Sieben-Chuback said she isn’t worried, and looks forward to some “friendly competition.”

One of her competitors will be Regina bar owner and consultant Aaron Murray, who was awarded a cannabis retail licence in Saskatoon after applying in four locations.

“The idea of moving to Saskatoon, I’m only about a half an hour into thinking about it,” Murray said, laughing, on Friday morning. “It’s something to consider for sure.

“We’ll have a manager that will manage the store, certainly; that’s not my expertise,” added Murray, who co-applied with Regina lawyer Dan Kwochka. “But I’ll certainly be spending a lot of time in Saskatoon over the next few months.”

Murray looks forward to seeing how the cannabis market unfolds.

“It’s something completely new; it’s going to be quite interesting to see the public reaction to it all.”

It’s not entirely new to Andrew MacCorquodale, whose Ontario-based company, Canopy Growth Corp., operates an online medical marijuana business.

Its subsidiary, Tweed Grasslands, was awarded five permits after applying in all 32 locations.

“The legalization of cannabis allows customers of ours not on the medical side to access our products and interact with our business,” said MacCorquodale, who lives in Regina, his hometown, as Canopy Growth’s head of operations for Western Canada. Tweed Grasslands is based in Yorkton.

“We do have an amazing retail division in the company that has a lot of experience and has been deploying these in (Manitoba and Newfoundland).”

He said the company plans to host open houses and job fairs in the five communities in which it will operate — Fort Qu’Appelle, Humboldt, Meadow Lake, Melville and the RM of Corman Park.

Another successful applicant was a brand-new partnership of First Nations-owned companies, which submitted 31 permit applications and won three — in Warman, Yorkton and North Battleford.

Synergy Five Investments LP is made up of five firms, including Athabasca Basin Development Corp., Des Nedhe Development LP and Kitsaki Management LP, Peter Ballantyne Group of Companies and PAGC Development Corp.

“First Nations got into business to provide opportunities for our community members to participate in a wide range of activities,” said Sean Willy, Des Nedhe president and CEO.

“The retail side, we already have people working in that, so this is another step that hopefully opens up job and own-source revenue for the communities, so they can fulfill their self-determination requirements.”

Allen and Denise Kilback are familiar faces to residents of Pilot Butte and area.

The couple opened their Happy Hour liquor store last year. In the not-too-distant future, they’ll be the faces behind a new cannabis retail store.

On Friday, the provincial government named the Kilbacks as the recipient of one of 51 cannabis retail licences in the province, specifically in the Rural Municipality of Edenwold, where 26 applications were considered for a lone permit.

The Kilbacks will personally run their store, unlike some of the other lottery winners, of which approximately one-third were from out of province.

“We wouldn’t put our name behind it if we wouldn’t be hands on,” said Allen Kilback.

With a background in agriculture and real estate, Kilback travelled to Colorado to research the industry, and is seeking the input of cannabis consultants as he moves forward with plans for a store.

“We don’t want to make any mistakes, so we’re going to look at everything out there,” he said.

Aurora Cannabis Inc., which recently bought Saskatoon-based Cannimed Therapeutics Inc., did not apply for any permits but is planning on developing its own retail strategy for the province with greater discretion over store locations, according to spokesman Cam Battley.

— with StarPhoenix files from Alex MacPherson

Article source Saskatoon StarPhoenix

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