Bright, open, with clear finishings and a distinct West Coast design.
That is what the inside of B.C.’s only cannabis retail shop looks like.
Located in Kamloops, the provincial government has hired 20 staff to help operate the storefront. Each is trained to guide cannabis consumers from being I.D’d at the door and into a retail outlet where everything from premium bud, rolled joints and bongs can be purchased.
Cannabis director of retail operations Kevin Satterfield says there will be 92 different products on the floor for display, not including the cannabis accessories.
“We are working with our producers to make sure we have a good product knowledge, that we have the information we are looking for and we have it on a good positive display format where customers can take a look at it through a magnified glass and they can take it, remove it, and smell it,” explained Satterfield.
Prices for cannabis range anywhere from $6.99 for one gram to $86.99 for a seven gram item. Bongs, pipes and paraphernalia can also be purchased and will be on display behind glass.
Trained cannabis consultants will greet consumers and help them make an informed decision on purchasing and consumption.
According to Michael Tan the executive director of cannabis operations, government’s research shows that despite high consumption rates of cannabis in the province, general knowledge of the product is relatively low.
“There was an opportunity to educate customers, particularly new customers, on the plant,” he said.
Cannabis 101 at the BC Cannabis Store starts with understanding the risks and what customers need to know before they buy. The second step focuses on plant anatomy and understanding what is cannabis.
Tan explained there are three basic attributes that the government believes customers should consider when making a decision on what kind of product they want.
“One is the type of plant, indica, sativa, hybrid. Two is the potency levels from a THC and CDB perspective and (third) turbines, not any one of those attributes are indicative of an experience but all three combined would make an educated choice.”
As each cannabis experience differs based on the user, Tan explains that having trained consultants on board will help ease the process of choosing the right product for the consumer.
Products are broken down into four basic categories; indica dominant, generally known for its relaxing qualities; sativa dominant, generally known for its uplift; hybrid balance which is a combinations of indica and sativa qualities; CBD, known for its relaxation affect without an intoxicating high.
The other message the government wants to get across inside the store is that of social responsibility. Signs plaster the walls with four messages, keep weed away from children, don’t drive high, possession limits and ‘start low, go slow’.
The BC Cannabis Store is currently working with 40 producers but not all are supplying product.
Blain Lawson, the CEO of the liquor distribution branch, says they bought everything that was available to them at the time.
“They (the producers) are not struggling with the cultivation of the product but with the actual packaging, shipping, and getting it to us,” he said.
“I think in time they will sort that out, time will tell in the next little while if we have enough for the next month, two months, whatever. I believe we do, but that could change.”
With the legalization of marijuana change to the cannabis industry is on the way, but it can’t come soon enough for Kamloops business owner Chris Monteleone.
Currently the co-owner of Commodore Grand Cafe and Lounge, the Kamloops local hopes to open a legal pot shop.
“It’s truly years of research and finding out what was going to be coming,” said Monteleone from outside the store.
“Once legalization was around the corner a location was first, that was in the proper zoning, then a very interesting and intrusive process through the federal government. Then we were approved and referred to the City of Kamloops and that is where we are at now.”
Monteleone and his business partners will go before city council on Oct. 30 with the hope of becoming the second cannabis store in Kamloops, providing some retail competition for the government run location.