Display cases at the Yukon government’s cannabis store in Whitehorse on Oct. 16 — the day before the grand opening and legalization across Canada. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

CANNABIS SPECIAL: Government pot shop opens in time for legalization

About 120 products will be carried, including joints and ingestible oils

To mark nation-wide marijuana legalization, Yukoners are now able to purchase cannabis from a government-run brick-and-mortar shop or via an e-commerce website.

The outlets are to supply about 120 products — from joints to massage oil.

Steve Cummings, director of the Yukon Liquor Corporation, the government-sanctioned distributor, says there’s a dip in supply, though it’s unclear to what extent.

This could mean — depending on demand — that stock could run dry.

“Us, like every other jurisdiction, is a little bit short on product. We do have an ample supply, maybe,” he said. “Depends on how much is going to purchased,” noting there could “be four people in here or 400.”

Supply is coming in from across Canada — B.C., Alberta, New Brunswick and Ontario.

“We’re up to eight licensed producers we’re working with, right now,” Cummings said.

“This is new,” he said, referring to legalization in general. “There’s not the perfect information out there. I’m a supply chain guy, and we don’t know what we’re going to sell tomorrow. We don’t know what crop is going to be available next month.”

The store, located in Marwell at 120-B Industrial Rd., will be open at 11 a.m. A limit of 24 people will be allowed in at once — 12 in the reception wing; 12 in the retail side.

The e-commerce site, at CannabisYukon.org, will be active at 11 a.m., too.

Those purchasing marijuana through the government regulated e-commerce site will be required to prove their age with ID, and deliveries will be made by Canada Post.

Community Services Minister John Streicker, present at a technical briefing for reporters at the facility on Oct. 16, said eight in 10 Yukoners supported legalization.

“The question, of course, is how to ensure safety and responsibility,” he said.

“Our government is committed to protecting public health and safety, safety of our youth, and displacing illegal activity. These goals flow from the federal Cannabis Act and into the Yukon’s legislation and are the foundation for the legal regime.”

To mark the opening, and accommodate overflow, the store’s hours will be extended for the first three days, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. After that, the store will be open Monday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The marijuana is to be handled by trained staff when patrons have picked their pot.

Staff members have been vetted, subjected to criminal background checks, Cummings said.

“Some have medical experience with the product, some people have recreational, illicit recreational experience, as well,” he said. “Tomorrow it will be legal, and those things will fall by the wayside.”

There will be eight staff to start, which will likely even out to four eventually.

The premises will be under tight surveillance, Cummings said, and one full-time security personnel will be on hand.

“It’ll be a very heavily secured industry, much more so than what we’ve had in both tobacco and with liquor,” he said.

Marijuana will not be sold to individuals under 19 years or to those thought to be intoxicated.

Patrons can buy up to 30 grams, though there is no restriction on what they can possess in their home.

The store is slated to eventually close. The Yukon government has promised that it is a temporary measure before the government transfers responsibilities to private enterprises. In the spring, the liquor corporation will be accepting applications from private retailers. This hinges on the establishment of a licensing board.

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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Crystal Schick/Yukon News The Yukon government’s cannabis store at 120B Industrial Rd.

Crystal Schick/Yukon News Sample products in display cases at the cannabis store in Whitehorse.

Signage at the reception area warning customers about the security measures in the Whitehorse cannabis store. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

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