Cannabis was legalized one year ago today and two licensed stores in Vernon, Spiritleaf and the Greenhorn, say business is good.
“Sales are awesome,” Spiritleaf owner Sarah Ballantyne said. “Our customers are enjoying the products we do have and they’re looking forward to the products we will have coming in Phase 2.”
Phase 2 is readying to roll out after edibles, extracts and topicals were made legal on Oct. 17, 2019, a year after cannabis. The federal government’s green light doesn’t mean brownies and beverages will be on shelves today, rather manufacturers must serve a 60-day notice to Health Canada for all new products.
“Today it becomes legal for producers to produce the items and then there is a 60-day hold, essentially, before they start sending out product,” Ballantyne said, noting Spiritleaf on 53 Avenue expects to start seeing cannabis-infused edibles, topicals and beverages roll in around Christmastime.
“Most of our customers come in looking for edibles, but they leave with capsules or edible oils,” she said. “That way they can go home and make any product.”
Greenhorn employee Derek Gouchée said the legalization of edibles will be a game changer for some.
“Sometimes people have medical issues that makes smoking difficult,” he said. “Edibles are good for that. And there’s no smell—some people are worried about that.”
Since legalization both Ballantyne and Gouchée said they’ve noticed a decrease in the stigma surrounding cannabis use.
“It’s definitely backed off quite a bit,” Ballantyne said. “All of our customers are spreading the information. We see a lot of friends of friends or people who say, ‘my mom told me to come here,’ or ‘my grandparents shop here.’”
Gouchée echoed the sentiment.
“You see people smoking cannabis more and more in the open and it’s just become a regular thing,” he said. “Once the government legalized it, you kind of have to get behind it.”
But the legalization of cannabis one year ago didn’t come without its fair share of struggles.
Ballantyne said the biggest hurdle Spiritleaf had to overcome was obtaining the provincial licence in the first place. It took her eight months and she said she submitted her application on Day 1. Meanwhile, Gouchée said another hurdle is the up-front costs associated with employment.
Employees must be of the age of majority and security verified every two years. The security verification costs the employee $100 and the workers are responsible for that fee, unless their employer covers it on their behalf.