In one month, Canadians will take in a collective breath. Or, rather, toke.
In anticipation of cannabis legalization on October 17, federal, provincial and municipal governments have been passing legislation to regulate the substance.
On the other end, distributors have been preparing to meet public demand.
On Bowen, where the municipality’s recently passed pot bylaw prompted Facebook controversy and many letters to mayor and council, rises the Happy Isle Cannabis Company.
The venture is a partnership between pub owner Glenn Cormier (who previously proposed a cannabis shop under the new pub) and David Bellringer.
“A lot of people in the community know that I’ve been interested in doing this for a while,” said Cormier. “For me it was about finding the right location and testing the waters within the community.”
Bellringer approached Cormier, offering a storefront on Dorman Road (just outside of Village Square) and the two got to talking.
“We decided to partner up on this,” said Cormier. “We’re both excited about legalization federally and we’re both big proponents of the product.”
Since the municipality recently passed a cannabis bylaw that prohibits selling pot on-island unless a location is rezoned for that specific purpose, Cormier and Bellringer have been consulting BIM.
“I found actually that, going through our process, the municipality’s been very proactive,” said Cormier. “They’re just taking a cautiously Bowen approach to how they want the store to happen and it’s going to give everybody the opportunity to be involved in the process.”
The projected opening date is December 15.
But the course of legalization isn’t expected to run smooth.
“Right now, anybody who experiences dispensaries in Vancouver has a certain perception of what they are, how they operate and what products are available,” said Cormier. “That’s all going to change.
“All of a sudden the only thing that the retail cannabis stores can sell is what’s provided through provincial government warehousing and distribution.
“We really debated whether we wanted to rush into it,” said Cormier. “We have one supplier and that’s the government. If they’re not organized enough to have enough stock on hand or their distribution model isn’t properly set up we could open an empty store.”
“There’s just a lot of questions right now,” says the store’s manager, Rob Forbes. The islander has worked in the pharmaceutical industry and has a background in naturopathic medicine, and is a long-time proponent of legalization.
Forbes notes the complexity of the legalization process.
“What’s technically legal to sell as of October 17 is the CBD, oils, capsules, tinctures and cannabis flour. But what’s not been approved yet and will be within the next year, as it appears, is concentrates and edibles,” said Forbes.
The trio is also aware of the sensitivity around cannabis.
This thought went into selecting the store location. “It’s not right on the main strip,” said Bellringer. “It is a little tucked away but it’s still central in the cove.”
As per regulations, no paraphernalia or product will be visible from outside the store, so as not to entice children, but once people are inside the store, Forbes said it’s going to be a welcoming atmosphere.
“The staff will be very well educated on the cannabis industry and the different strains of cannabinoids,” said Forbes.
“Whether they’re somebody who’s used cannabis a lot and a so-called expert or somebody who’s just curious and has never really tried it. You have to treat them differently,” he said. “I think our approach is more of a consultive sales approach.”
“The last thing you want to have happen is for people to try this product for the first time or for the first time in a long time and have a bad experience,” said Cormier.