Here's a sneak peek inside a Quebec cannabis store

The immaculately stacked shelves, all behind a counter out of reach of consumers, are lined with offerings such as Great White Shark, Chocolope and Pink Kush.

SQDC outlets officially open Wednesday at 10 a.m., but we got in early and had a look around

CBC News had a look inside the Société québécoise du cannabis store on St-Hubert Street in Montreal, set to open tomorrow. (Benjamin Shingler/CBC)

The Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) opened one of its stores to media on Tuesday, a day ahead of legalization.

Reporters were shown around the outlet on St-Hubert Street, one of three in Montreal set to open to the public tomorrow.

Jean-François Bergeron, a representative for the new government retailer, said the goal is to strike a balance: make the products enticing and affordable enough to compete with what's sold on the black market, while also ensuring they are consumed safely.

"The mission is not to promote consumption," said Bergeron, a vice-president at Quebec's liquor corporation (SAQ), which is overseeing the SQDC.

"It's really to distribute in a safe manner across Quebec."

Bergeron anticipates that meeting the demand could be challenging in the first weeks following legalization. He said the pricing, which starts at just over $5 a gram, will be competitive.  

"That's a really good price," he said with a smile.

The scene outside the St-Hubert store is very Montreal, as construction crews work on the closed-down street.

The immaculately stacked shelves, all behind a counter out of reach of consumers, are lined with offerings such as Great White Shark, Chocolope and Pink Kush.

Elsewhere, there are explanatory posters and smart screens outlining the differences between strains.

Bergeron said public education will be an essential part of the sale of legal marijuana, and front-line retail staff will play a key role in that endeavour.

Consumers to be ID'd at the door

The SQDC is set to open 12 outlets on Wednesday across the province, including three in Montreal. The three Montreal locations are:

  • 970 Ste-Catherine Street West, near Metcalfe Street.
  • 9250 Acadie Boulevard.
  • 6872 St-Hubert Street.

Three more stores, including another outlet in Montreal, are to open by the end of the month. There are plans to open between 150 and 160 stores in the next two to three years. A complete list of locations is available here.

The opening hours are Monday to Friday, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

By law, all outlets must be located at least 250 metres away from elementary and high schools (150 metres in Montreal).

Customers will be required to show their identification at the door to prove they are 18 or over. The new Coalition Avenir Québec government is planning to raise the minimum age of legal consumption to 21.

Cannabis will also be available for purchase online as of Wednesday, at

In all, the SQDC plans to offer a total of about 180 products in the form of dried flower, ground cannabis, pre-rolled, oil, oral spray and pill or gel cap.

Inside the stores, the cannabis is in containers and isn't visible through the packaging. Customers also won't be allowed to see it or smell it before purchasing.

There are warning labels directed toward adolescents and pregnant women on the products.

No edibles will be available, as stipulated by both provincial and federal law.

Do you have questions about how cannabis legislation is going to work in Quebec? The CBC's Benjamin Shingler has the answers. Join us live on Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 12 p.m. on the CBC Montreal Facebook page for our Q&A on cannabis.

About the Author

Benjamin Shingler is based in Montreal. He previously worked at The Canadian Press, Al Jazeera America and the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. Reach him by email at or follow him on Twitter @benshingler.


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