'I've never had a receipt for this stuff': Sask. shoppers head to suburbs on 1st day of legal cannabis
With stores in the big cities still waiting on supply, customers go to Edenwold and Martensville for pot
Saskatchewan residents took their places in line to purchase some of the first legal marijuana products in the province on Wednesday — but not in the big cities of Regina or Saskatoon.
A product shortage has caused delays in opening for several shops, but Eden (which has since changed its name to Vatic Cannabis Co.) in Edenwold, outside of Pilot Butte, and Jimmy's Cannabis Shop in Martensville welcomed customers on the first day of legalized recreational cannabis with open arms and full stock.
"Forty years I've never had a receipt for this stuff," said Ian Wright, walking out of Eden in the RM of Edenwold.
Wright lives in Regina, but made the short trip out of town to pick up his first legal supply.
"It feels good to not think I have to hide from the cops or sneak away from the building, run because someone's watching or anything. It's nice and legal — the way to do it."
A stigma still lingers, though.
At Jimmy's Cannabis Shop in Martensville — just north of Saskatoon — only two of the dozens of customers lined up ahead of the 11 a.m. opening would consent to media interviews.
It feels like there's something wrong with it, but you think about it, and you're fine once you're in there.- Allan Kennedy
"It's a time of transition, right?" said Bryant Libbey, waiting in line before his turn inside.
"People are always going to be a bit uncomfortable, at least until we get a little further into destigmatizing things, not just legalizing it.
"It's the personal component, not the business component."
Longtime smoker Ian Wright agrees.
"The illegal dispensaries we had to go to, there's really a stigma. I've noticed out in the line that the stigma is still there."
'Got an eighth of Alien Dog'
Part of the excitement in line was not just about the legality of the products, but the products themselves.
"I got an eighth [of an ounce, or about 3.5 grams] of Alien Dog," Wright said, straightfaced.
"It's high THC."
While store clerks, sometimes called "budtenders," are educated about the product, they're not doctors — and they don't hesitate to remind customers of that.
"You should always seek medical advice from your practitioner," said Natasha Perkins, chief marketing officer for Jimmy's Cannabis.
Still, she says staff are there to help and ease people into the pot-buying process.
"You walk into the store, you can take a deep breath, you have space to just be yourself. Come in, come as you are, and then start your journey."
'Like you're shopping for an iPhone'
One of the first people to legally purchase recreational cannabis in Martensville was Allan Kennedy, a longtime medicinal cannabis user.
After a car accident years ago, he decided to try marijuana to manage his pain.
He smokes several times a week, but not every day.
"I'm not a hardcore connoisseur, so mostly I just dabble," he said.
When he entered the store, he was a bit surprised that the product wasn't more accessible to touch and smell.
The cost was also unexpected, he said, with prices starting at $13 a gram.
"It's a little pricey, but it depends on how good it is and the quality. I'll know more today, hopefully," he said.
As for the experience in the store, "it's casual," he said.
"Just like you're shopping for an iPhone, kind of thing."
Jimmy's staff pointed him in the right direction for pain management, and he bought $90 worth of high-THC cannabis to smoke.
Like Wright purchasing his legal marijuana after waiting 40 years to do so, Kennedy felt strange showing his ID and paying for the product in-store.
"It feels like there's something wrong with it, but you think about it, and you're fine once you're in there."
With files from Stephanie Taylor