What the first day of legal weed looked like in New Brunswick
The pros and cons of legal weed are up for debate —but the excitement Wednesday was undeniable
Big crowds. Cheering. Snacks.
The jury may still be out on the long-time health and social impacts — but the prevailing mood in New Brunswick on the country's first day of legal weed sales was one of anticipation and excitement.
On Wednesday morning, 20 government-run Cannabis NB retail locations opened their doors to the public for the first time.
Thousands of New Brunswickers showed up to celebrate, check out the goods and witness history in the making.
Here are 15 photos from the province's first day of legal recreational cannabis sales.
In Rothesay, dozens of customers lined up around the side of the building at 11 a.m., one hour after the Cannabis NB location on Marr Road opened.
Only about 30 people are allowed inside Cannabis NB stores at a time — a guideline intended to facilitate a one-on-one, personalized shopping experience.
"It feels great," said Saint Johner Maggie Harris, a musician who lined up with friends for the opening of the Cannabis NB store at 87 Landsdowne Ave.
"We have our freedom now. That's what it boils down to.
"We don't have to look over our shoulders anymore."
A gram of "Kinky Kush" — an indica strain from the recreational cannabis brand Liiv — costs $8.99 and comes in a childproof, tamper-proof plastic bottle.
With a THC content of 27 per cent, it's among Cannabis NB's most potent strains.
Depending on which LP, or licensed producer, the cannabis comes from, the price can be as high as $15.50 per gram.
Howard Hammond is a Canadian Armed Forces veteran who uses medical cannabis to treat PTSD. He has reservations about the legalization of recreational weed.
"I'm wondering how it was going to pan out now that it's finally legalized in Canada," Hammond said, adding that he expects the government to "pull out of it within a year."
"I don't think they're going to make enough money off of it," he said, despite that prices are "expensive."
"I think it will make it worse for people [who use] medicinal marijuana."
A number of uniformed military members are among the customers in line for a look at the Cannabis NB location at 16 Commerce Dr. in Oromocto.
The Oromocto retail outlet is close to 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown, which employs some 7,500 military and civilian personnel.
In Moncton, Zachary Leblanc and Patrick Duff waited to enter the cannabis store at 165 Main St.
According to Leblanc and Duff, people who choose to consume cannabis will simply have to use "common sense" — the same way people should when they drink alcohol.
Three different cannabis products that can be purchased in New Brunswick: a gram of indica from Liiv, a sativa strain from the licensed producer Tweed and 25 millilitres of sativa oil — which can be dispensed on the tongue, or in a drink, via the dropper, pictured.
About 50 people waited in line to buy legal cannabis in Bathurst on Wednesday morning.
The location at 640 St. Peter Ave. is Cannabis NB's only outpost in the city.
John Edwards didn't mince words about his plans for the morning in Rothesay: "I came to pick up some legal marijuana," he said.
"Every day I smoke it anyway, normally. Now, we don't have to worry about getting in trouble with the law. Which is nice."
Despite the enthusiasm, Edwards had a word of caution for fellow cannabis users.
"No driving for anyone! Just stick at home — and smoke weed at home."
A superlatively Canadian image.
A man waves a cannabis-leaf Canadian flag in front of the Cannabis NB location in Moncton, which also happens to be adjacent to the Canadian discount retailer Giant Tiger — and the offices of CBC/Radio-Canada.
Jokes about snacks and munchies were de rigueur across the province today.
The potato chip aisle at the Atlantic Superstore on Rothesay Ave., in the same building as the east Saint John Cannabis NB location, appeared relatively unscathed.
"I think this is something that should have happened a long time ago," said Shawna Cormier, who said she smokes cannabis for "relaxation, recreation — the same reason people have a glass of wine or a beer after work."
"I didn't know if I would get to see it in my lifetime. It's kind of exciting to actually be able to witness it."
What will this change for Cormier?
"Not a whole lot. I'm just going to have to come to the store to buy it."
It was a festival atmosphere at the Lansdowne Plaza cannabis store, with those waiting in line cheering as other customers emerged from the store with purchases.
"Get the show rolling! Woo!" one impatient customer yelled as he waited to enter the retail outlet.
"Smoke a joint and calm down!" responded another prospective customer.
Ray Munro waited in line for 30 minutes to buy cannabis on Rothesay Ave in Saint John.
"I've smoked weed for a long time to relax," he said.
What's the best part, in his opinion?
"Less waiting for text messages. More driving to the store."
A lonely NB Liquor location.
While it's unlikely that the crowds the retailer experienced on Wednesday will be the norm — the buzz around legal weed in New Brunswick will likely to linger in the coming days and weeks.