A fan of the newly-legal drug for about 45 years, Terry Myers was the first customer ready to make a purchase when The Reef Cannabis Shop opened its doors for the first time ever at noon on Oct. 17.
“I knew it was coming,” Myers said when asked if he ever thought the time would come for legalization. “But I didn’t think it was going to take this long though. I was surprised it took this long. I’m still surprised it’s actually here in the meantime. And it’s fantastic.”
After years of being treated as a prohibited drug, cannabis was officially made legal Wednesday, giving consumers a chance to buy the product as they would anything else — cash, debit or credit.
The Reef was among the initial batch of retail stores to obtain licenses earlier this year to operate from Cannabis NL, a branch of the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation. Store manager Zach Hudson said the business worked through the different stages of preparation as legislation was passed prior to Wednesday. It was only within the last month and a half that they were able to start placing orders for supply.
“It’s nice to finally be open and get a feel for how it’s going to operate,” he said.
Hudson believes it was inevitable that cannabis would someday become legal. He noted it can be enjoyed responsibly.
“And anybody that wants to smoke it is smoking it, so we might as well tax it and pave some roads and build some schools,” Hudson said.
Myers does not smoke as much cannabis as he used to in his younger days, but he still finds it great for focusing his mind.
“If I’ve got something on my mind and I’m having an issue with it, all I’ve got to do is have a puff and my brain just works better,” he said. “And I have a few friends who would say the same thing.”
One thing that excites Myers about legalization is knowing the quality of product will not be compromised.
“You know it’s clean. You know you’re getting good quality, because it’s from the government. I tried some of it, and it’s excellent,” said Myers, who went for the product with the highest strain of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) content Wednesday, billed as Donegal.
As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, business was pretty steady at The Reef. While some businesses chose to enjoy the two-hour window from 12-2 a.m. Wednesday and allow people to buy extra-early, Hudson said he wanted to be mindful of the business’ neighbours.
The store, located on the Conception Bay Highway next to the Mary Brown’s restaurant, does have a few residential homes in its vicinity.
One issue presenting itself early on is the matter of supply. As Hudson understands it, stock across Newfoundland and Labrador is somewhat limited given the newness of the industry. Right now, his store does not have access to seeds for sale. Oils have also been hard to come by, Hudson added.
“Now that it is legalized, we’re hoping to see everything start to move a bit quicker,” he said. “I’d say it’s probably going to take a month or two before it becomes a functioning supply system. But it’s a good start so far.