The one year anniversary of cannabis legalization has been challenging for some Salmon Arm cannabis retailers, but each is looking forward to their product’s future.
On Oct. 17, 2018, cannabis was made legal throughout the country. Since then, Salmon Arm’s cannabis retail stores policy has been triggered seven times from cannabis retail store (CRS) applications referred to the city by the province. Of the applications council has received, five were approved.
An application for a CRS to be built at the ESSO/Mac’s property on 10th Ave. NE was not supported due to its proximity to schools.
With three retailers already operating in the commercial core area, there are still two CRS applications vying for the fourth and final spot supported under the city policy.
An application for the former Windmill Meats location on 10 Ave SW will remain dormant until a decision is made by the province on the Eden site on Lakeshore Drive. If the province denies the Eden location, the Windmill application will come back to council for consideration.
A B.C. government CRS is planned for the Smart Centres site. The facility, however, has not yet been built. Although the city’s policy does not apply to a provincial store, council has shown its support for it.
“We were well positioned in having this policy ready before the enabling legislation was approved at the federal and provincial levels last fall,” wrote Kevin Pearson, Salmon Arm’s director of development services. “Virtually no public opposition was expressed for each application.”
Salmon Arm currently has more provicially approved pot shops than any other community in the Interior, with three operating in the downtown and one in Canoe.
As for the retailers themselves, a year since legalization marks an exciting accomplishment.
“It’s been a long road. There’s been a lot of hurdles to get past like inspections and worker verifications,” said Skye MacKay, manager of Salmon Arm Cannabis. “Once we eventually got here, the demand is here so that’s good and promising.”
The one year anniversary also marks the beginning of the second stage of legalization – edibles. While edibles have been legal as of Oct. 17, products need to be applied for, approved and tested before they hit the shelves. Cannabis retailers expect to have the new product in their fridges by December 17.
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“Our store is going to look very different come Christmas time,” said Jillian Bileske, manager of the Greenery Cannabis Boutique. “There is going to be a lot of new changes from what we have in here so we’re all looking forward to it.”
Jennifer Bertram, an employee at Downtown Cannabis, said that after a slow start, the public has warmed up to the new business.
“In the three months we’ve been open its gotten more acceptable,” Bertram said. “There are quite a few people in their 70s and 80s coming in, looking for the CBD oils.”
An important component of the legalization of edibles is that the final products must not appeal to children. Retailers expect see plain gummies, cannabis infused water and topical creams to roll out come December.