Approximately 50 people were waiting for Cannabis Yukon to open its doors in Whitehorse at 11 a.m. on on Oct. 17. The business had a steady line up outside the doors throughout most of the day. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Cannabis Yukon opens in a blaze of glory

Yukoners spent $59,900 on legal cannabis on the first day

It’s about time — that’s what Colin Ruttle said as he stood in line outside the Yukon’s first cannabis store on Oct. 17.

“To me, it’s not really that harmful, right?” said Ruttle, who lined up at 10:30 a.m. for the store’s 11 a.m. opening.

“It’s no different than smoking … I’ve been to the (stores) that are in Vancouver and, you know, I mean, you go into them and you can see what they got. At least with something like this, you know where you’re getting it from. When you buy it on the streets or wherever, you don’t know where it’s come from.”

Ruttle was one of roughly 35 people standing in line when Steve Cummings, director of the Yukon Liquor Corporation, opened the door at Cannabis Yukon. The line grew in the hour that followed.

Patch Groenewegen, manager of social responsibility, policy and planning for the Yukon Liquor Corporation, said the retail location saw 1,041 visitors on the first day, 701 of whom made purchases. The store’s website, which had technical difficulties in the first hour of its launch, but was running by noon, saw 736 visitors.

Groenewegen said the total amount spent on pot on Oct. 17 was $59,900. Roughly 75 per cent of this came from in-store purchases. The average online transaction was $120, while the average in-store transaction was $73, she said.

As cars drove by the Industrial Road shop that morning, they honked and waved. Customers waiting in line cheered as Cummings welcomed them into the store at 11 a.m. by wishing them a happy weed Wednesday.

They were allowed in 12 at a time, first to a reception area, then into the store’s retail space.

Cummings said the shop had experienced some issues with supply, but that it was ready. He said the product selection, which runs from $8 to $19.75 a gram, will change over time.

Even though Oct. 17 marks the legalization of weed in Canada, some people were still reluctant to be photographed or videotaped. The first customer to exit said he couldn’t speak, as he was rushing back to work. The second didn’t want his name in the paper. The third was a woman who described the store as “bare bones,” but said she’d picked up an assortment of varieties (costing $200 total) and was pleased with what she’d seen.

Ruttle exited the store after about 30 minutes. He said he spent about $90 on bubba kush and a few joints.

He said he was going to do some research to figure out what he has paid in the past for similar strains, amounts, and THC concentrations online. After that, he’ll decide whether or not to continue visiting the store, or sticking with an online retailer, though he did say the experience of being in the shop was “different.”

“Not used to it, right, that’s for sure. It’s not every day you get to do this until now.”

Ruttle said he wasn’t going straight home to sample the goods, but that it was part of his plan for the evening.

“I got some other running around to do but later on tonight I’ll be able to sit and partake in a little bit of smoking.”

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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A customer of Cannabis Yukon show off some of his purchase on legalization day in Whitehorse on Oct. 17. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

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