Eager shoppers lined up outside Green Town, Red Deer’s first fully licensed cannabis retailer Thursday morning before it officially opened at 10 a.m. The opening marks the first retailer in the city to open.
Justin Pierce arrived at the storefront at 5111 49th St. at 8:15 a.m. and was first in line. After buying cannabis called Highlands, which he uses to manage his epilepsy, he said he was very happy with his shopping experience.
“It was well worth the hour and forty-five minute wait. Well worth it,” he said. “I was really looking forward to having this part, the duty paid cannabis sticker. It’s like the real proof that it is legal now.”
While he said the prices are a little high, being able to buy cannabis legally, “is better than facing jail time for time being able to relax and manage my epilepsy.”
Set up like a pharmacy which keeps all the product in a back room, Green Town let in 10 customers at a time after it opened. Those customers can order what they want off a menu displayed on a flat screen.
After paying for the product, the customer gets a receipt and they line up at the dispense line.
At that time, another receipt is sent to the back room where the product is kept out of sight from customers. Three employees working in the back get the receipt and put the order together. Once the order is collected, the customer gets their products from the dispense line.
It has been just over a month since pot was legalized on Oct. 17th in Canada. The delay in Green Town’s opening was a result of a shortage of supply, explained shop owner Sam Katzman.
“It’s a brand new industry so everyone is learning as they go, including the government who has been absolutely fantastic with me,” Katzman told the Red Deer Express a week before the store opened.
Demand across Canada has been high and supply is low, he said.
“It’s a learning curve. There’s going to be some hiccups and many of those are being sorted along the way.”
With the shortage of supply across Canada, Green Town Manager Tyler Stevens said the store will stay open based on what they can order from the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC).
“We’re ordering every week,” he said. “I know the AGLC is working hard to keep everyone in stock. So I’m confident we’ll have enough stock to stay open a few days a week and hopefully that can be sustained for as long as we can.”
The demand for weed has been so high that the AGLC announced Wednesday it is now denying new applications and retailer licenses as a way to mange the supply shortage. This will remain in effect until supply stabilizes.