Nanaimo’s first licensed cannabis retail store will open next week.
James Maxwell, co-owner of 19+ Cannabis, told the News Bulletin his store will be open for business on Dec. 3 beginning at 10:30 a.m.
“As of Tuesday, Nanaimo will have a store that sells legal cannabis,” Maxwell said.
Located at 52 Victoria Cres., 19+ Cannabis will sell everything from marijuana to oils and even pre-rolled joints.
“We are offering everything that we are allowed to offer, which is dried flower, extract and concentrate,” Maxwell said. “So, that’s your oil drops, oral sprays and capsules.”
Infused beverages, vaping and edible products will be available for purchase early next year.
“There are no legal [edible] products in stores as of yet, but there will be soon,” Maxwell said. “There is a lot of excitement around this next wave of new products.”
Customers will be required to present government-issued identification before being able to enter the retail section of 19+ Cannabis. Once inside, they can either head directly to an express check-out area, or visit the private consultation rooms, where they can learn and smell the different types of products being offered.
“Because this is all new to everyone it can be a bit intimidating to even understand what the products are,” Maxwell said. “What our two private consultation rooms do is give people the ability to talk with one of our employees in a comfortable environment and ask the dumbest questions they want.”
Cannabis was legalized by the federal government in October 2018. But a year later, not a single licensed cannabis store had opened in Nanaimo. Mood Cannabis, a Nanaimo-based company that is planning to open stores at 3923 Victoria Ave. and 6404 Metral Dr., had anticipated being operational by late October but has since pushed back the opening dates to January and February according to its chief administrative officer.
“It’s amazing that we will be the first store to open in the city,” Maxwell said. “Between the city and the province, there is a lot of regulation and a lot things to get right.”
All cannabis retail stores in Nanaimo require a specific zoning designation from the city in order to be able to operate and applicants must go through the city’s re-zoning process. All applications must also undergo a provincial review, which includes a background check on the owners and a financial review.
19+ Cannabis first submitted a rezoning application to the city back in November 2018. In September, councillors approved the rezoning application, and just a few weeks ago 19+ Cannabis received its business license from the city.
After more than a year of going through the regulatory process, ownership is looking forward to finally being able to open their doors.
“It’s been a long time coming and we’re pretty excited,” Maxwell said.