MARIJUANA retailer National Access Cannabis Corp. will open its third government-licensed cannabis store in the province today. The Meta Cannabis Supply Co. store is located at 79 Keeshkeemaquah Dr. in Portage la Prairie, on reserve land belonging to the Long Plain First Nation. It is NAC’s third Manitoba location, following a store that opened Wednesday in Opaskwayak (near The Pas) and a Winnipeg store on Pembina Highway. Long Plain owns 51 per cent of the Portage la Prairie store, NAC chief executive officer Mark Goliger said. “We’re just very excited to be working with Long Plain, and to provide them some economic development through this store,” he said. NAC plans to open 10 stores in Manitoba by early 2019, including locations in Brandon and Selkirk, plus three more Winnipeg stores. Goliger said some of the planned Winnipeg locations “could open very soon,” but NAC is taking a cautious approach in the face of a countrywide shortage of legal cannabis. “We’ll continue to build our stores and to achieve licences, (but) we also have to be careful because we want to do well by the community and provide them with the cornucopia of cannabis options that we can get from suppliers,” he said. “But for now, opening up all the stores that we could across the province — there’s just not enough product.”

National Access Cannabis sells cannabis, but doesn’t grow it. NAC and other licensed cannabis stores in Manitoba source their products from federally regulated cannabis producers through the Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries Corp. “They’re the ones who talk to the suppliers,” Goliger said. “Everybody’s frustrated, including customers… I think everybody had this huge hype of the change, going from illegal to legal, and all of a sudden, they’d walk into a store and it would be like, endless differentvarieties and supply,” he said. However, Goliger said customers at NAC’s newest store should expect to find cannabis for sale: “We have supply in Portage la Prairie.” Goliger said he expects Canada’s cannabis supply shortage to be resolved eventually. “This is a plant, it takes time to grow, and that same analogy works for this industry in flipping from illegal to legal,” he said. “It’s the seed that was planted on Oct. 17, and it doesn’t overnight just sprout a fantastic flower.” solomon.israel@freepress.mb.caTwitter: @sol_israel