October 17, 2018 was a historic day in Canada as the nation became the second country in the world (and first G7 Nation) to legalize Cannabis nationwide. Recreational use of marijuana (under 30g/person) is now legal for persons 19 years or older, though restrictions differ from province to province - click here to learn more - to consume within Canada. In British Columbia, only one store was approved to be open on the day of legalization. There are several private Cannabis stores that have applications in to the provincial and municipal governments, however they have yet to be approved.
Our journey began at the crack of dawn at Vancouver's Canada Place. Departing at 7:30AM we made our way out of the city and headed into the interior of British Columbia to Kamloops, the first and only government Cannabis store. The four-hour drive had a stop in the town of Hope where we had time to take in the beautiful autumn colours and pick up a java for the road.
Once we arrived into Kamloops we waited about an hour in line to get one of the first looks inside the new BC Cannabis Stores. The mood in line was that of excitement. It was like Christmas day and everyone was in a great mood and anxious to see what the very first legal cannabis store would look like. No surprise there was a lot of media to capature the historic day.
Bethany Rae, founder of Flower + Freedom, and a cannabis activist said,
"I have to admit we were all pleasantly surprised by the experience we had inside the government owned store 'BC Cannabis Store'. Their educational wall was well designed and the aesthetics were welcoming. There was a large selection of strains separated into indica, sativa, high CBD and hybrid. You could smell each strain through the sample jar though I could not see the packaging of the strain that I selected until I went up to pay which is not the way consumers enjoy shopping, we want to see and select our favourites brands while discovering new ones. There were oil, capsules, pre-rolls and accessories all following through a well designed space. The staff were friendly and very knowledgeable. I will be back to shop again."
The store was really well laid out with a focus on education. As you entered into the store you are greeted by huge coloured wall panels illustrating the various strains of cannabis, the science behind THC and CBD as well as the health benefits and risks of consumption of cannabis. I think this was a really powerful first step in combating the stigma around marijuana and its byproducts.
On opening day the BC Cannabis Store had 80+ varieties available for sale. Each variety was displayed in a transparent ball which had both a magnifier so you could look more closely at the bud as well as a sniffer to smell the cannabis. Perhaps one of the most striking sensory experiences at the store was the lack of cannabis odor. I am sure this would make for being able to smell each variety a much better experience as your nose would not be overwhelmed with other competing smells.
As you toured around each display there were tablets that would give you more information on the product you were looking at. Since all products are strictly controlled the data is quite thorough. Once you have made a decision as to what you want, you simple fill out an order sheet along with the SKU#, product description and quantity desired to a maximum allowable limit of 30 grams.
Overall I was really impressed with the store and really enjoyed the overall day trip with High Definition Tours. It is a tour I would highly recommend in the future. For more information on some of the Cannabis inspired tours visits HighDefinitionTours.com
We are excited to see how Cannabis Tourism will develop over the coming months in Canada. It was such an educational experience to be part of the opening day at the BC Cannabis Store Kamloops. - departures X dean