The first private pot retailer north of 60 has opened in Whitehorse.
At 10 a.m. April 18, Triple J’s Canna Space on Wood Street opened its doors to its first customers.
Owners Jordi Mikeli-Jones and Jeremy Jones touted the day as a “soft opening” ahead of an anticipated busy 4/20 on April 20.
The opening came a day later then originally scheduled, with Triple J’s only receiving its cannabis retail licence from the Yukon government on the morning of April 17.
It required the document before staff could pick up their city business licence and first order of cannabis. The licence is also required before the store can get its debit machine. Given the short timelines ahead of a long weekend, Mikeli-Jones said the store won’t be set up for debit purchases immediately, but it will be accepting credit card and cash purchases.
As the staff and owners product stored in the basement vault Wednesday, Yukon MLAs spent much of their time in the legislative assembly debating the issues around private sales of pot.
Opposition MLAs focused on what they described as moving goalposts by the Yukon government despite its assertion it wants the private sector to put it “out of business” as a cannabis retailer.
John Streicker, the minister responsible for the Yukon Liquor Corp., focused his comments on the work of the Cannabis Licensing Board, pointing out this was the first application for a private shop that it had to consider.
He also noted Triple J’s had opted to publish its planned opening date before getting the licence. He said he had pointed out to them they first had to get through the licensing board process before they could open.
Mikeli-Jones and Jones said they do not recall any such comments from the minister.
When the licence hadn’t come through by April 17, a clearly-frustrated Mikeli-Jones had to announce the opening would be delayed.
Inside the shop the next afternoon, a much more relaxed Mikeli-Jones said she got the call the licence was approved first thing that morning, setting into motion everything that needed to happen to open the doors.
Dave Sloan, chair of the territory’s cannabis licensing board, dropped by the shop later in the day to extend his congratulations.
As for the reason behind the delay in issuing the licence, Mikeli-Jones said Sloan had explained to her the board had to put it through legal counsel.
It’s her understanding future applicants likely won’t have to go through such a rigorous process as this was the first private licence the board had dealt with.
“We’re reminded we’re trail blazers,” Mikeli-Jones said, stating overall she and Jones have a had a good rapport with the board throughout the process.
The hearing on the objection to the cannabis shop happened April 15, though Dan Bushnell, who filed the objection, never showed up to the hearing.
In its decision available on the Yukon Liquor Corporation website, Sloan wrote: “The board appreciates the thoroughness of the application, the professionalism and preparedness exhibited by the applicants at the hearing.
“In particular, the applicant’s thoroughness in meeting and exceeding the requirements imposed by the CCRA (Cannabis Control and Regulations Act) and accompanying regulations went a long way towards the board reading its final decision to grant a sub-class 1 licence without conditions to the applicant …”
After getting the licence, Mikeli-Jones was off to get the city business licence with Jones then off to the liquor corporation’s warehouse to pick up $50,000 worth of pot.
“What was nice is they had our order ready,” Mikeli-Jones said, adding city staff also seemed happy when she came in to get the business licence.
From there, preparations were underway, the pot making its way to the basement vault where it is required to be kept overnight. It is only dispensing technicians and management that will have access to the vault.
In the morning, the cannabis was brought upstairs and placed on a shelf behind the counter. A small amount was also placed inside the “canna pod” containers secured to the custom-built table stationed in the middle of the dispensary allowing customers to get a better look and smell of the products.
“We’re going to be ready,” Mikeli-Jones said.
Staff were pleased to learn they’d be on the job April 18, she said. Boxes of cannabis paraphernalia and other products that will be sold in the upper level of the store are ready.
It’s on the upper level that products for growing along with a line of shirts made from bamboo as well as recycled plastic bags bearing the store’s logo will be sold.
Jones’ office where he will provide consultation on the safe use of cannabis is also upstairs with board room space for workshops and an open space Mikeli-Jones sees eventually turning into an “oasis” of sorts where clients can get massages that incorporate the use of cannabis oil. More renovations are foreseen in that part of the building adding to the extensive work already done in the building for the dispensary.
As legislation is adopted to allow for the sale of edibles and oils, there is also a vision for space next to the dispensary where those will be sold and perhaps a cafe added.
“We are very excited for that,” she said.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org