REGINA -- The province is moving towards an open market for cannabis retailers in Saskatchewan.

The government issued 51 permits when marijuana was legalized in October of 2018.

Starting next April, communities with populations under 2,500 people that didn’t qualify for the lottery will be able to apply for permits.

In September 2020, the province will lift the cap on the number of stores that can receive permits.

“A year has passed since legalization and most of the initial retailers are now serving customers in their communities,” Minister Responsible for Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority Gene Makowsky said in a news release. “We’ve also had the opportunity to consider how Saskatchewan should proceed in the future. We believe opening the market to more retailers will help meet customer demand while also helping discourage competition from unlicensed stores.”

Applicants will still need to meet all provincial requirements, including a good character check, inventory tracking and store security. They will also have to align with local municipal requirements, including zoning.