What it's like inside one of Canada's first legal retail cannabis stores: NB

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The Liberal government and the Senate may be in the midst of a battle that further delays the legalization of recreational marijuana, but Cannabis NB is good to go with at least of one its stores.

The one in the north end of Saint John is now complete. Once the date for legalization is announced, Cannabis NB can stock the products and train the staff to be ready for opening day.

Brian Harriman, president and CEO of NB Liquor, hosted a tour of the new store with journalists, who took pictures and videos and asked questions about how the new stores will operate.

The north end store is located in a busy mall area that includes a drug store, grocery store, bowling alley and many fast-food outlets. It was constructed on the site of a former NB Liquor store that moved to another location in the neighbourhood.

People who enter the store will be greeted in a vestibule area. A staff member will be seated at a desk by the door checking IDs. No one under the age of 19 will be allowed past the waiting area into the main store.

There will be an express counter where customers can pick up products they ordered online or over the phone. This counter won’t be operational for the first couple of months.

When the stores open there will be up to 250 cannabis flower and oil products of varying quantities and strains. They will be kept in glass cases. Trained store “guides” will be able to answer questions and allow customers to examine and smell the products they might like to buy. They will also have iPads on hand if customers want more information that’s accessible online through the licensed suppliers.

“We’ll have a team of guides working in the store who will be able to talk to you and understand your experiences with the products, if any, and what you’re hoping to achieve and make sure that people have a safe, well-educated experience,” said Harriman.

“But also we want it to be modern and enjoyable, so it’s not going to be a 1965 prohibition-era shopping experience. It’s going to be much more akin to a jewelry store experience or about the store experience.”

There are large photo murals of iconic New Brunswick landscapes like this one of the Hopewell Rocks. “We really want people to feel comfortable here and we wanted the stores to reflect New Brunswick and have a neighborhood feel,” said Harriman. “We really want people to come in, be relaxed, have a really safe, educated, fun experience.”

There are educational installation pieces the size of supper tables that describe things like the experience of using particular strains of cannabis.

“What Should I Try?” reads one of the panels. “Consider trying a Sativa strain. These strains are known for their cerebral effects which can be invigorating and uplifting.”

“Plan For The Occasion,” reads another panel. “Regardless of how you ‘chill’ and enjoy downtime, these products are meant to put your mind at ease and sooth the soul.”

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