SYDNEY RIVER, N.S. — Cape Bretoners have said “yes” to legalized cannabis.
Beverley Ware, spokesperson for the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, said of their 12 stores with a cannabis section province wide, the Sydney River store was the second-busiest store during the opening of the legalization of cannabis sales Wednesday.
Of the 12 NSLC locations across the province that dispense legal marijuana, the Sydney River outlet is the only one in Cape Breton.
“The busiest was the one on Clyde Street in Halifax.”
As a Crown corporation, said Ware, at the end of every financial quarter numbers have to be approved by an auditor and then by the board before they can be released. However, due to the significance of Wednesday being the first day cannabis was legal to purchase in Canada, they were allowed to produce some figures to let Nova Scotians know how it was going.
However, the statistics are only for part of the day, from opening at 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Ware said during that time period on Wednesday, there were 768 transactions at the Clyde Street store in Halifax and about 650 transactions at the Sydney River Store. There were 6,652 cannabis transactions provincewide during that time period and 288 online transactions.
“Online sales were then very brisk into the evening and through the night.”
Ware said they expected the lineups and were prepared. There were more than 100 people in line at the Sydney River store at the 10 a.m. opening Wednesday.
“It was the first day of legalization in Canada and we knew there was going to be quite a bit of buildup leading up to this. We had prepared employees and we had extra security to assist with these lineups.”
Ware said there were still lineups at the stores across the province when they closed Wednesday night. Customers were given notice about 90 minutes or so before closing.
“Our employees were working flat-out all day and were pretty exhausted. In order to provide the best experience for the customer we asked them to come back in the morning as we were closing as we always do at 10 p.m.”
There was a lineup of about 10 people when the Sydney River store opened at 10 a.m. Thursday, a number which stayed consistent through the morning.
Ware said they are still expecting somewhat of a lineup to continue for some time, although it could be more confined to the inside of the store — where it doesn’t interrupt the beverage and alcohol customers — instead of extending outside.
Ware said they were running out of quantities of certain strains on Wednesday but were able to offer customers replacement products.
“Essentially, it would have been the same product, just a different brand.”
Ware said they did receive a large shipment of inventory Wednesday morning.
“We continue to receive inventory, it’s quite fluid. We expect supply is going to be an ongoing issue not just in the opening days but in the coming months as the licensed producers get fully ramped up.”
Ryan Dixon, 21, of Glace Bay, was one of a handful waiting in line at the Sydney River store Thursday morning.
Dixon said he skipped the opening day.
“I didn’t feel like waiting in the line,” he said. “I could hold off until today (Thursday).”
Dixon said he feels cannabis products should have been legalized long ago.
“I have a lot of friends who’ve had simple possession charges and it’s just ridiculous, a lot of them can’t find a job because of it.”
He felt it was cruel on the police officer’s part to make a charge because, in most instances, it was small amounts of cannabis.
On Thursday some media were reporting information surfacing on line showing the NSLC's cannabis catalogue can be accessed without an age-verified code.
Ware said their IT department is looking into it.
“We want to assure customers this has absolutely nothing to do with our security, it’s about social responsibility.”
Ware said the customer still has to provide photo identification providing they are at least 19 years of age and they do live at the address the cannabis is being mailed to.
“It’s about being a responsible citizen. Nova Scotians, we don’t expect would provide liquor to a minor or provide cigarettes to a minor and cannabis is no different.
“We wouldn’t expect Nova Scotians would provide cannabis to minors. It is illegal.”
A pot of statistics:
- Busiest store in Nova Scotia — Clyde Street store in Halifax with 768 transactions
- Second busiest in Nova Scotia— Sydney River Store with 650 transactions.
- There were 6,652 cannabis transactions provincewide up to 5 p.m.
- There were 228 online cannabis transactions provincewide by 5 p.m., however, transactions spiked after that and continued throughout the evening.