Maple Ridge’s first licenced, retail cannabis store opened for business on Monday.
Spiritleaf opened in ValleyFair Mall, selling retail cannabis from a licenced outlet for the first time in the city.
A soft opening on Monday was followed by a grand opening Tuesday with Maple Ridge Couns. Ahmed Yousef, Judy Dueck and Gordy Robson at the occasion and even gift bags for the first 50 customers.
There is only one other legal cannabis store in the Lower Mainland outside of the Vancouver city limits, said the company. The provincial government website lists only one other in the Fraser Valley – The Kure Cannabis Society in Chilliwack. There are 12 in Vancouver and more in the Interior and on Vancouver Island.
City council approved the store in May and staff noted it was the first of 12 applications filed to open cannabis stores in the city. So far, only two have been approved by the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch.
“It’s a new commercial opportunity that’s going to provide jobs and provide much-needed relief,” said Yousef.
Coun. Robson though disagreed with the screened windows that are required by the province, saying that it’s not safe for employees.
Consumers have been able to purchase pot at “grey market” store fronts in Maple Ridge for years, from operations that have called themselves dispensaries of medicinal marijuana.
Spiritleaf owner Jeff Sweetnam said the store is different. It is located in a commercial hot spot, right next to Save-on Foods and the government liquor store. Most of the product will be dried cannabis but the Spiritleaf store also will sell pre-rolled joints. There will be CBD and THC oils and capsules, and coming in December, there will be edibles and other products. All are government approved.
Sweetnam said he is aiming for “a high-end retail experience,” and the store will offer stone pipes and other accessories not found in “head shops,” he said.
The store will feature a display by Maple Ridge growers Tantalus Labs. Sweetnam said his store will promote made-in-B.C. and Canada product.
“A big focus of ours will be around B.C. bud and local producers,” he said. “B.C. has a rich history in cannabis.
“If you talk about it, people are excited about cannabis legalization,” he said.
Sweetnam, an entrepreneur with a background in the cleaning business, is the franchise owner. Calgary-based Spiritleaf is a the second largest retailer in Canada.
“Spiritleaf Maple Ridge has created a modern retail model that offers legitimacy, reputability, professionalism and a feeling of confidence,” said the release.
The company will be capped at eight stores in B.C. until 2021 as the government does a controlled roll out, noted Sweetnam.
It has taken about a year to get ready for Monday’s opening. He said city hall has been cautious and thorough, but helpful, and the mall management has been supportive of the new venture.