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    Couche-Tard Wants Into the Cannabis Business

    Canada could legalize marijuana by July 2018.

    LAVAL, Quebec — One of the world's largest convenience store operators in the world may be adding legalized marijuana to its locations in Canada.

    Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. has reportedly hired a lobbying firm in a move that signals an interest in selling cannabis at its convenience stores in Quebec, according to the Montreal Gazette.

    A recent entry in Quebec's registry of lobbyists is the PR firm Tact Intelligence-conseil, represented by Marie-Ève Bédard. According to the registry, Bédard's presence is in the context of Bill C-45 — federal legislation to legalize marijuana for recreational use, the news outlet reported.

    Bédard's has been tapped, it added, to let the Quebec government know Couche-Tard is willing to be part of a sales model established for marijuana sales in the province. Couche-Tard hopes to obtain "a favorable orientation" on the part of the government toward a model that would include the convenience retailer in its distribution plan.

    The company stressed it favors a model that would see sales to the public conducted in a responsible manner, the Montreal Gazette said.

    The federal government is expected to legalize marijuana by July 2018. The proposed legislation calls for the individual provinces to set the sale and distribution.

    As of Jan. 29, Laval-based Couche-Tard's network consisted of 8,081 convenience stores throughout North America, including 6,710 stores with road transportation fuel dispensing. Its North American network comprises 15 business units, including 11 in the United States covering 41 states and four in Canada covering all 10 provinces.

    In Europe, Couche-Tard operates a broad retail network across Scandinavia, Ireland, Poland, the Baltic states and Russia through 10 business units. As of Jan. 29, Couche-Tard's network in Europe consisted of 2,766 stores, the majority of which offer road transportation fuel and convenience products, while the others are unmanned automated fuel sites that only offer road transportation fuel.

    In addition, under licensing agreements, close to 1,700 stores are operated under the Circle K banner in 13 other countries and territories worldwide

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