Homegrown ambition: St. John's business poised to profit from pot
Greenery owner thinks Newfoundland and Labrador can achieve marijuana self sufficiency
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.
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.
"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."
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.
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.