Take a tour of the Yukon government's new pot shop
Territory's first legal cannabis retailer set to open at 11 a.m. on Wednesday
The Yukon government says it's ready to start selling legal pot on Wednesday — even though it's got just a fraction of what it's ordered in stock.
"Like every other jurisdiction, [Yukon] is a little bit short on product. We do have an ample supply, maybe — it depends on how much is going to be purchased," said Steve Cummings, director of operations for the Yukon Liquor Corporation (YLC) which is responsible for the purchase and distribution of cannabis in the territory.
"We sold zero yesterday and for the last, you know, x number of years — so we don't know what we're going to sell tomorrow."
Cummings and other government officials invited reporters to tour the Cannabis Yukon retail store in Whitehorse on Tuesday. The store, located in the Marwell area, will open to the public at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
"It has been a big effort in a very short time frame," said Cummings.
The store is divided into two sections — a reception area that customers will first enter, and then the retail showroom where products will be held, displayed, and sold.
There will be dried bud for sale, as well as pre-rolled joints, tinctures, oils and topical creams. Edible marijuana products are not yet legal for sale in Canada.
The reception area will have product information for people to peruse, and sales personnel to consult. It will also have security personnel, to control who enters the retail area.
A maximum of 12 people will be allowed into either the reception or retail areas at any time. People under the age of 19, or people deemed to be intoxicated, will not be allowed past reception.
Cummings said it's about the "user experience" of shoppers.
"It will be a very heavily-secured industry, much more so than what we have in both tobacco and liquor," Cummings said.
Staff 'steeped in product knowledge'
The store will be open for extended hours for the first couple of days — from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday. The regular schedule will see it open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays. The store will be closed on Sundays.
Opening day will see eight sales staff on hand, said Matt King, president of the YLC. He said staff have all gone through training so they will be able to answer customers' questions.
"Staff have been steeped in the product knowledge, and the law, and the health side of it as well," King said.
"We want people, as we move into legalization, to understand as much as they can about the legal product and to know that it's well-controlled, in terms of how the retail experience goes."
Staff were vetted and subject to criminal record checks, King said. And according to Cummings, some staff who were hired already knew a lot about pot.
"The sales associates, as you can imagine, some people have had extensive experience in the product over the years, but not necessarily from a legal aspect," said Cummings.
"That all changes tomorrow, so it's good that we have some people with a background in it."
Still, Cummings said retail staff will be somewhat restricted in what they can tell customers about what they're buying. For example, they can't tell someone how stoned they'll get.
"We're allowed to give factual information, and we cannot necessarily give medical information. We can't necessarily give street information and how it's going to make you feel as an individual," Cummings said.
None of the product information will be available in French just yet, officials said.
From $6 to more than $20 per gram
Prices will vary, King said — from "value" products, to "premium" weed.
The cheapest pot will go for $6 per gram, but the Yukon government doesn't have any of that variety in stock just yet. On opening day, the cheapest pot will retail for $8 a gram. The most expensive premium varieties will go for a little more than $20 per gram, King said.
"It just depends on the particular product, and the producer, and the way they grow, and the offering that they happen to have. There's a real range of products, and a real range of price points to go with it," he said.
The government will also begin selling legal pot online starting at 11 a.m. on Wednesday. Deliveries will be made by Canada Post, and buyers will have to show ID to receive the product at their door.
There won't be any private retailers of marijuana in Yukon until at least next year. The government expects to establish a marijuana licensing board in the coming months, and will accept retailers' applications starting in the spring.
With files from Alexandra Byers