Nfld. & Labrador

Homegrown ambition: St. John's business poised to profit from pot

​Even if we're pounded by blizzard after blizzard, one downtown St. John's store is promising a green Christmas.

Greenery owner thinks Newfoundland and Labrador can achieve marijuana self sufficiency

Ross Barney is a manager and co-owner of Greenery in St. John's. (Mark Quinn/ CBC)

Even if we're pounded by blizzard after blizzard, one downtown St. John's store is promising a green Christmas.

"Most Newfoundlanders — we bottle our own beer, we cork our own wine, we probably should grow our own vine as well," said Ross Barney, co-owner and manager of Greenery.

When Barney says "vine," he means marijuana. It's something Greenery hopes to sell eventually but until legislative changes decriminalize marijuana, the new business will help people grow their own.

"Consider us a test case. We would love to work with law enforcement and the justice department and become a dispensary of medical marijuana," he said.

"But in the meantime, we'll have a cafe and I'll be happy to sell you a grow tent and you can have yourself a green Christmas."
Greenery is setting up on the east-end of Duckworth Street in St. John's. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

Greenery, due to open in late November, is one of a number of businesses in St. John's hoping to profit when marijuana is made legal next year.

Besides the cafe Barney talked about, the shop will sell growing products, and smoking accessories typical in a headshop. It will also have an educational component.

"In the back of our store we're going to teach seminars where people can come in, first time growers, and learn from other experienced growers how to grow their own marijuana," said Barney.

Not decided who will sell

When marijuana is decriminalized, each province will have to determine how it is sold.

Newfoundland and Labrador hasn't announced its plan yet but Barney is hoping the province will not decide to sell exclusively through pharmacies or through the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation.
Greenery is selling tents that help people grow their own plants. (Mark Quinn/ CBC)

"I think we should follow what Manitoba and Saskatchewan are looking at right now where the government will control the stream of the product and distribute it to small independent business owners like myself," he said.

"So I hope it's an opportunity to create new business here in St. John's. Especially when St. John's needs this new business."

N.L. still hasn't set regulations for marijuana, but one shop owner is hoping to keep pot out of the NLC 1:39

Barney's convinced even if that doesn't happen, Greenery will still be a viable business with the selling of smoking accessories, growing equipment, and its teaching seminars.

He believes Newfoundland and Labrador should strive to produce all the marijuana that's consumed in the province.

"I hope one day I can buy marijuana from a Newfoundland grower and sell it because we're a local business. So we can keep things here in Newfoundland if we wanted to," Barney said.

"Imagine if Sprung greenhouse existed today, that would be some greenhouse," he said, a reference to a failed $22-million investment by the Brian Peckford government in cucumber production during the late 1980s.

Federal government preparing changes

In June, federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould announced the launch of a task force to advise the Canadian government on how best to map its plan to legalize marijuana.

The House of Commons is expected to send proposed legislative changes, Bill C–45, to the Senate before Christmas

But recently concerns have been raised that the Senate may delay plans to change the legislation governing marijuana in Canada by July 1.

Greenery plans sell items such as pipes and tents for growing plants until marijuana is decriminalized in 2018. (Mark Quinn/ CBC)

Members of Parliament and committees have already been wrestling with a host of concerns with the bill, such as whether police are properly prepared to deal with the change and what restrictions should be in place regarding growing marijuana at home.

About the Author

Mark Quinn

CBC News

Mark Quinn is a videojournalist with CBC's bureau in St. John's.