Nanaimo’s first B.C. Cannabis Store opens on Mary Ellen Drive Wednesday, July 29. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

Nanaimo’s first government cannabis store set to open

B.C. Cannabis Store on Mary Ellen Drive is the 20th in B.C. and carries about 250 products

Nanaimo’s cannabis connoisseurs and people looking to explore if the product is for them can now have a government outlet to choose from alongside the city’s existing private vendors.

Nanaimo first government-operated B.C. Cannabis Store officially opens its doors on Mary Ellen Drive on Wednesday, July 29, just in time for the B.C. Day long weekend.

The store, the 20th B.C. Cannabis Store to open in B.C., hosted a pre-opening walk-through Tuesday to show off the retail outlet and its products.

Tyson Muzzillo, cannabis operations regional manager, said the store carries about 68 different varieties of cannabis products along with accessories such as bongs, pipes, rolling papers, grinders, drinks, vaping devices and more, but he said B.C. Cannabis Stores is also doing what it can to educate the public about safe and responsible use of cannabis products and to also help eliminate illicit vendors.

“As we roll out more stores across the province … our mandate is to keep cannabis out of the hands of youth and help eliminate the illicit market,” Muzzillo said. “As we roll out these stores, that focus continues on and these stores are just a marker point of how we’re working to eliminate that.”

Muzzillo said the response from communities the stores have opened in has been positive. B.C. Cannabis Stores wants people to come in and see what products are on offer and what measures have been taken to promote social responsibility.

“We encourage people to come in, even if they’re not looking to make a purchase, come in and see what our social responsibility is about, what actions we’re taking to protect your community and eliminate the illicit market,” he said.

Muzzillo said in the first week or two after a store opens, people come in just to ask questions. Even if they don’t purchase, store staff are there to help with product education and to discuss the store’s efforts toward social responsibility regarding cannabis use and the protocols it has in place to protect against COVID-19 infection.

“We really look forward to educating people. Maybe they’re not familiar with cannabis or maybe they’ve had some experiences with it in the past and now they’re coming back for the first time, so we’re really gravitating towards those conversations and that’s where we’re getting a really positive response from the community as well,” he said.

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Decor in the store is much like other cannabis retailers, with lighted kiosks displaying samples that under non-pandemic circumstances can be smelled, but are currently under a look-but-don’t-touch protocol. Wall graphics and LED viewing screens display everything from public safety advisories educating users about the safe cannabis use, to the roles cannabis components such as CBD, THC and terpenes play in the overall effect the product has on the consumer. Drinks, oils and accessories such as grinders and vaping devices are all behind glass displays. In all, Muzzillo said the store carries about 250 different products. The stores deal strictly in non-medical cannabis products.

“One of our mottos is ‘start low, go slow,’ so a first-time consumer can have a conversation with one of our consultants who are going to walk them through,” he said. “What are you looking for? Have you consumed cannabis in the past? What was that experience like? Did you like that? Did you enjoy that? And they’ll really work with them to find an experience and a product that fits what they’re looking for.”

All products are Health Canada certified.

The store’s opening hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on statutory holidays and the store will be open for B.C. Day.

RELATED: Nanaimo’s first B.C. Cannabis Store opening this week
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Tyson Muzzillo, B.C. Cannabis Stores regional manager, explains the store’s operations during a pre-opening tour Tuesday. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)

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