REGINA -- Vatic Cannabis Company was the first pot store to open in the Regina area when marijuana was legalized one year ago.
Since then, there have been ups and downs, but CEO Allen Kilback says the first year has been a great learning experience.
“A year ago, you couldn’t walk in this place, we had a lineup to get in, so the industry has changed quite a bit, obviously there’s more stores open, but the novelty of legal cannabis stores has worn out now,” Kilback said.
Many of their customers are regulars with ages between 19 and 91.
Kilback added they’re continuing to look at ways to lower prices and they’ve recently joined together with other independent cannabis stores to form the Saskatchewan Weed Pool.
“We’re operating as a buying group, so we get together once a month, share ideas, talk about consumer trends, we’re really trying to come forward with some positive change,” Kilback said. “We can’t advertise, so there’s quite a disadvantage – especially with our location – so we’re looking at different ways of campaigning/educating the consumers to come support a local business.”
For the Regina Police Service, the first year of cannabis legalization went fairly smoothly.
“It’s had a minimal impact on operations, certainly on day-to-day operations we haven’t seen a huge increase, we haven’t seen a lot of impaired driving incidents with regard to it and even our day-to-day possession or consumption illegally is not something that we’ve seen increase, we have done a bit of work on dispensaries, but generally the impact has been minor,” Chief Evan Bray said.
There were 51 cannabis stores licenses issued by the province and 39 have opened to date. There are currently six licensed stores operating in Regina.
Bray said their biggest issue has been with the illegal dispensaries that have opened up over the past year.
“We’ve taken a fairly public stance when it comes to illegal dispensaries,” he said. “We’ve consistently showed that if we learn of illegal cannabis sales happening in the city, in a location where a license is not possessed, we will take enforcement action.”
Edibles legalization adds another level
The police and Saskatchewan Government are now preparing for the second phase of legalization with edibles, extracts and topicals becoming legal on Thursday.
“It will be very similar to the dried side in terms of the amount of THC, in terms of carrying it with – 30 milligrams equivalent,” Gene Makowsky, Minister of Liquor and Gaming, said.
“It will present a challenge just that it’s another nuance to the legalization aspect,” Bray added. “The where you can possess, how much you can possess, who can possess, those type of things are parallel when it comes to consumption, so it doesn’t if you’re going to smoke cannabis or eat it in a cookie, there still are some rules and those are very similar.”
The Provincial Government expects that it will take about 60 days for edibles, extracts and topicals to be available in stores in Saskatchewan.