New Brunswick

More chilled-out pace on Day 2 of legal cannabis sales

Consumers experienced shorter wait times, as the "fine tuning" by the provincial cannabis authority continued in response to customer demand.

Pre-rolled joints, other items might be sold out — but that doesn't mean they're not available

A small lineup at the Cannabis NB store in Moncton Thursday morning. (Pierre Fournier / CBC)

Day 2 of legalization in New Brunswick was a comparatively chilled-out affair after the frenetic first day of sales.

Lineups were notably shorter on Thursday morning across the province — ​although many consumers still queued up in chilly temperatures and snow squalls to browse the selection of bud, oil and accessories at New Brunswick's 20 retail locations.

At Cannabis NB on Main Street in Moncton — where crowds assembled long in advance of the 10 a.m. opening time Wednesday — just a handful of prospective customers were waiting when the store opened.

It was a similar scene in Fredericton on Thursday, where a line of 25 people at opening time shrunk to 10 customers within "five or 10 minutes," said Mark Barbour with Cannabis NB,

Other locations in Rothesay and Fredericton had no lineups at all.

After a steady stream of customers visited the Cannabis NB location in east Saint John, the long lineups that characterized the first day of legal sales had largely dissipated on Thursday morning. (Julia Wright / CBC)

"We were able to adjust the traffic flow and the way we're executing our guide experience," he said.

The result was that wait times — as long as an hour on Day 1 — were often 15 minutes or less on Tuesday.

"We've been able to fine-tune in the bigger city centres," Barbour said.

"We're still seeing the enthusiasm from customers coming in."

Gateway to 'the fridge'

The Day 2 clientele seemed to include fewer die-hard cannabis consumers and more curious newbies, like Saint Johner Kevin O'Donnell.

He said he hasn't smoked pot since college but wants to "give it a shot" again now to see if it helps with his back pain.

"I didn't want to come yesterday because I figured it would be a circus," O'Donnell said.

While he acknowledged he's had "a puff here and there" during prohibition, he said he's much more comfortable trying the drug now that it's legal.

The second day of legal cannabis sales in New Brunswick attracted more casual consumers like Kevin O'Donnell, who didn't come on the first day because he knew it would be a "circus." (Julia Wright / CBC)

"I never really thought it should be illegal in the first place," he said.

"They call it a gateway drug. To what? The fridge?"

A few grams of cannabis is "all I need," he said. "It will probably keep me going for a year, for all I use it."

Some shortages

The crowds of novelty-seeking, first-day shoppers led to depleted stock at certain brick-and-mortar stores and online.

The Cannabis NB website allows for online ordering and home delivery within one business day.

Pre-rolls (packages of pre-rolled cannabis cigarettes) "went faster and did [sell out] online," Barbour said.

"We took an educated guess as to what we would put online, and what we would distribute to the 20 areas around the province," he said.

A package of pre-rolls "with energizing sativa properties and calming indica properties" remained sold out on the Cannabis NB website Thursday evening. (Cannabis NB)

Other products, like a THC oral spray, initially appeared on the website but weren't available when sales went live at midnight on Oct. 17 due to an issue with the licensed producer.

"We're working with them to see how we can get that product as quickly as possible," Barbour said.

I never really thought it should be illegal in the first place. They call it a gateway drug. To what? The fridge?- Kevin O'Donnell, Saint John shopper

Even if CBD oil, for example, is sold out in one location, Barbour said, that doesn't mean it's not available at other locations.

"We can do a transfer and move products around … Maybe Rothesay or another location in Saint John would have that product," he said.

"That's the fortunate thing about larger places that have a couple of stores — you may be able to move around."

No sales figures released

Oct. 17 was a "historic day," Barbour said, adding that Cannabis NB is "extremely proud of our sales team."

But the retailer declined Thursday to offer specifics on its first day of sales.

Unlike NSLC Cannabis, Cannabis NL and PEI Cannabis, New Brunswick will not release its early sales figures or information about customer traffic until Cannabis NB performs an "analysis of sales and our inventory levels," Barbour said.

The provincial cannabis authority has estimated it could bring in as much as $8 million per month in its first year.


Julia Wright

Host, Information Morning Saint John

Julia Wright is a born-and-raised Saint Johner, reporter, photographer, and the host of Information Morning Saint John on 91.3FM. She has been with the CBC since 2016.